In remote Eastern Nepal, there is a holy mountain called Kumbhakarna. Its peak is home to gods and demons. No man can touch its slopes and it is believed that a Sherpa who dares set foot on the mountain, will die. One family is ready to break the taboo…
Kumbhakarna (aka Jannu) is a Himalayan peak (7710m) famous for its 3000m unclimbed east face, one of the most difficult challenges in modern alpinism. The Westerners’ and local people’s attitude to the mountain is a world apart.
At the foot of Kumbhakarna at 4000m (asl) lies a small Sherpa village Kambachen. There are just 30 houses and in one of them lives Ngada Sherpa and his family. Ngada is born and bred in the mountains. He is the best high-altitude porter in the area: he carries equipment and sets the ropes for alpinists up to the summits, very often risking his life with little in return. He has climbed nine times Everest, two times Kanchenjunga. His wife, Jomdoe Sherpa works as a porter as well, carrying heavy loads on steep, icy trails to base camps. They have a son, 16-year-old Dawa.
The life in the Himalayas at this altitude is a struggle for survival. Despite the fact that for a decade Ngada has worked with international expeditions, his family lives on the edge of poverty. When the father works in the mountains, his wife and son, who just completed his primary school, work in the fields planting and harvesting potatoes. Dawa dreams of becoming a doctor, but his family cannot afford his further education.
One day Ngada is offered work on an expedition to the forbidden Kumbhakarna. Taking part is against his faith and lamas’ warnings. The stakes are high. If Ngada agrees, he will earn big money, much more than on other expeditions, and pay for first two years of Dawa’s medical school in Kathmandu.
In February 2019 the expedition of the world-class alpinists starts on Jannu with the aim to conquer the unclimbed wall of the mountain. Team consists of: Marcin Tomaszewski, one of the most prolific Polish climbers and two eminent Russian alpinists: Dmitry Golovchenko and Sergey Nilov, the 2-time recipients of the climbing Oscar: Piolet d’Or. The Sherpa family accompanies the expedition. The helicopter lands in the village and the climbers are greeted by Ngada and Dawa, while Jomdoe is praying to Dalai Lama in their hut. The massive snowfall they endure is the first messenger of mounting troubles. Will Gods of Kumbhakarna forgive the people for their insolence ?