Robson Entertainment
Erik Weihenmayer and blind climber Tashi Pasang in "Blindsight." Weihenmayer was the first blind man to reach Everest's summit.
BLINDSIGHT — *** 1/2 — Documentary feature about the 2004 "Climbing Blind" Himalayan expedition; with English subtitles (European and Asian dialects); rated PG (profanity, slurs, violence, brief drugs)

It's doubtful whether even a dream team of Hollywood's best and brightest creative minds could have come up with a tale that's more fascinating or more inspirational than "Blindsight."

After all, this is a true story about a handful of blind, or at least severely sight-impaired people, who attempt to climb one of the faces of Mount Everest, the world's tallest peak.

That's a feat that few, supposedly "normally" sighted people, have been able to accomplish. And this enthralling documentary feature shows just how difficult that 2004 expedition was to mount and to accomplish.

Director Lucy Walker begins by looking at Braille Without Borders, a program in Tibet for blind children and teens that's run by Sabriye Tenberken, a German-born teacher and academician who is blind as well.

Perhaps a bit surprisingly, Sabriye and her students have been treated as second-class citizens by their fellow Tibetans, who believe the blind are being punished for something they did in a previous life.

Given that mistreatment, it's understandable why blind mountain climber and athlete Erik Weiyenmayer — who climbed several of the world's tallest peaks — has became such a hero to them, and why they're so excited when he decides to meet with the group.

He also proposes that Sabriye and the teens ascend Lhakpa Ri summit, on Everest's north face. Obviously, it's not an easy hike and is very perilous, especially for inexperienced, amateur climbers who can't see where they're going.

Fortunately, Weiyenmayer and a team of very experienced guides are there to accompany and instruct them, every inch of the way.

Walker tries to profile most of the blind students, who are all charmers (particularly the shy, stuttering Tashi Pasang). And she's there when Sabriye and Erik nearly come to blows over whether to continue when things get really bad.

Of course, Walker and her camera crew also document some touching and funny moments, such as when one of the teens begins singing the Turtles' "Happy Together" as the group continues their Everest ascent.

"Blindsight" is rated PG for scattered profanity (most of it mild, and religiously based), a few derogatory slurs, some moments of peril and violent mountain activities, and brief drug content (a hypodermic injection). Running time: 108 minutes.

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