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Psyching Up: Adventure Therapy on Film

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The mountain is high, the ocean is wide, and that which does not kill us makes us stronger—at least according to Nietzsche, and to a spate of newly released documentaries that put this premise to the test.

Everest: A Climb for Peace contrives to solve geopolitics through mountaineering as Israelis and Palestinians scale the peak together ($20). While bonding proves inevitable, the film’s most honest moment comes when Israeli alpinist Micha Yaniv admits: "I’m basically just here to climb."

Mountaintop enlightenment makes for compelling drama in Blindsight (in theaters in April). Erik Weihenmayer—the first sightless man to summit Everest—leads six blind Tibetan teenagers and their teacher up Everest’s neighbor, 23,114-foot Lhakpa Ri, to show the world what they’re made of. The teacher (also blind) frets for their safety, and Weihenmayer urges them onward, while the kids are caught in the middle, in the dark, and on high.

An equally tense ordeal plays out in Deep Water—one of the best documentaries of 2007 ($16). In 1968 Donald Crowhurst entered the first nonstop, solo around-the-world sailing race despite an utter lack of experience; the film traces his quixotic voyage and his descent into madness at sea.

Do you have an all-time favorite adventure therapy flick? Let us know.

Photograph courtesy Robson Entertainment