Duration: 25 minutes
In 1997, in celebration of India’s fiftieth year of independence, climbers from a variety of South Asian countries, set out to climb Mt. Gya, on the Indo-Tibet border. At 22,400 feet, Gya was still unclimbed, despite several earlier attempts to climb it. The Elusive Mountain – Gya documents this historic climb.
The film follows the team as it moves through the desolate, desert-like landscape of Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, crossing a series of high altitude passes on its way to the base of the mountain. It is a little known part of the country, the high mountains of the Great Himalayan Range forming an effective barrier to the causal visitor. The team followed the old trade route between Tibet and the north Indian plains, a trade that is now much reduced, but as the film shows, still continuing. The folk dances of the region are a revellation, the brilliant colors standing in stark contrast to the barren and harsh countryside. Equally surprising in these seemingly lifeless mountains is the wildlife, including the rare Tibetan Wild Ass and Blue sheep, reportedly half goat and half sheep.
The second half of the film follows the climbers on their way up the sacred mountain – staying with them through four days of incessant snowfall, before a route is found over rocks never touched by humans. Filming the summit at about 22,000 feet, the film represents a landmark in Indian mountaineering films.