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‘The Summit’: Great climbing lore buried in an avalanche of info

Updated: November 12, 2013 6:08AM

Even from a safe distance, the idea of climbing the tremendously treacherous Himalayan peak K2, a.k.a. the Savage Mountain, seems more than a little crazy. Yet each year dozens of teams of climbers from around the world make the attempt — despite the statistical likelihood that one out of four of them will die. “The bigger the dream, the bigger the risk,” one climber says in “The Summit” (Rated R, 99 minutes) attempting to explain the allure of ascending the world’s second highest, most dangerous mountain. And there are times in this occasionally compelling, more often confusing documentary when that spirit of heroic adventure shines through — even in the context of attempting to sort out the disastrous 2008 K2 expedition in which 11 climbers lost their lives.

Unfortunately, the film’s more moving and memorable moments are mixed in with a king-size (if not quite K2-size) jumble of too much information. Director Nick Ryan continually interrupts the main story with not-so-dramatic re-creations, conflicting recollections of surviving climbers and, most tiresome of all, unnecessarily detailed recollections of a similarly controversial 1954 expedition. Hard-core mountaineering buffs might find all of it fascinating, but for others it’s likely to be a tedious uphill climb.

“The Summit” opens Friday at Landmark Century Cinema and Century Cinema 12 in Evanston. Rating: ★★

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