Mountaineers Bem and Svaricek release Everest book & documentary

Rudolf Svaricek and Pavel Bem, photo: CTK

Earlier this year Prague Mayor Pavel Bem became just the tenth Czech in history to conquer Mount Everest, at 8,848 metres the world’s highest peak. Mr Bem – an experienced alpinist – set his sights on the mountain despite criticism at home for taking leave of absence. But he didn’t allow himself to be deterred and, ultimately, he succeeded: on May 18th he and two Sherpas, who were part of a six-man team, reached the summit. The moment, and many others from the journey, resulted in a 27-minute film as well as coffee table-sized book released by Bem and fellow climber Rudolf Svaricek. Radio Prague was at the book's launch on Tuesday.

Rudolf Svaricek and Pavel Bem, photo: CTK
It didn’t take long for individual snippets of Pavel Bem’s new documentary “Window to the Sky” to make it onto youtube, but that shouldn’t be altogether surprising: when you have excellent digital footage from the world’s highest peak, it would be a shame not to use it. Two trailers at the site offer footage from Mr Bem’s May expedition, including a beautiful morning scene from the very top of Mount Everest.

The film is just one component of a lavish book & gift package released by Mr Bem and fellow climber Rudolf Svaricek this week. Along with the film, the package features a coffee table book full of photographs and other documentation as well as added surprises: an extensive map of the mountain and even copies of prayer flags. I spoke to Pavel Bem and asked him how – after months since his climb – he now saw his experience:

“Day-by-day when I wake up in the morning I am reminded of some of the beautiful views and panoramas which I saw from the summit, which I guess are somehow unique. I was present at the birth of a new day in the central Himalayas. It was like a miracle for me.”

The mayor admits that climbing Everest was a journey not with one but many different layers of meaning:

“We knew that the mountain has its own spirituality and we knew that it’s more than just the climbing experience or the lifestyle of the local people, the nomads, the Sherpas. It’s also a question of the ‘mystery’, linked to historic attempts and climbs to touch the highest point on the planet.”

Sadly, only two months after the successful ascent, Nima, one of the Sherpas who reached the peak with Pavel Bem, died on K2.

Photo: CTK
“What happened was that two months later one of our Sherpas tried to ascend K2 in Pakistan and he died at the height of 8,000 metres in a stone avalanche. It was an avalanche in my mind and I decided then to make the documentary film and with Rudolf Svaricek to write the book dedicated to this wonderful man, who was almost 35, had two kids, and a pregnant wife. We spent so much time together and shared so many personal and intimate experiences.”

Mr Bem’s book, entitled Treti Everest (The Third Everest), has been dedicated to the Sherpa’s memory. Complete with the film, it goes on sale in Prague on Wednesday. For now, there are no plans to release the book in English, only Czech.