The Last Mountain: Review

The Last Mountain

On 13th August 1995, Alison Hargreaves’ life was tragically cut short as she died in a violent storm whilst attempting to climb K2. Alison left behind a husband, James and two children Kate and Tom, she was the first woman to climb Mount Everest unaided. However, although Alison died leaving behind a family, she passed on something special to her son.

Tom Ballard picked up where his mother left off and his passion for climbing may have surpassed her own. Unfortunately, Tom also fell to the same fate as his mother, dying in a storm while attempting to climb Nanga Parbat in Kashmir. Tom’s biggest climbing achievement was being the first solo climber to ascend six major alpine north faces in a single winter season.

The Last Mountain is a documentary that pays a fitting tribute, not only to Tom’s climbing career and his achievement, but to his family and his mother who inspired his life’s work. Filmed and directed by Christopher Terrill, the documentary gives him unlimited access to the lives and most private moments.

Moments where James Ballard and his daughter not only go through the grief of losing a son and a brother, but also as they talk about the wife and mother that they lost and her influence on Tom.

Unfiltered and unflinching, The Last Mountain is a documentary that not only deals with moments of loss and sadness, but also joy as Tom Ballard’s life is remembered. Although following the journey from the moment of Tom’s disappearance, the pilgrimage that his sister, Kate takes as she goes to lay Tom’s memory to rest is a touching tribute and something they would be proud of sharing.

Although for those who are not aware of Tom Ballard and his achievements, let alone his mother’s then the documentary may be lost on some. There are snippets of news reports and television shows in which they appeared, also referring to Alison’s Last Mountain, a documentary which mirrors the events of her son’s. However, the documentary never goes into how much of an influence Tom had outside of his family.

This does make The Last Mountain an intimate and proud telling of his story though and something that may have made Tom proud to leave behind as his legacy.

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