Inciting Event: Climbing guide Rob Hall, his team, and clients arrive at the base camp on Everest. Basically, this is a story of man (and woman) vs. the mountain. Allowing the arrival at base camp to be the Inciting Event is a nice bit of work, since this is officially the first time the characters face the antagonistic mountain.

First Plot Point: During an “acclimatizing” practice run, a logjam of climbers at a ladder bridge nearly ends in disaster when one of Rob’s climbers falls and is unable to pull himself up because his hands had grown so cold during the wait. Not only is this the first big moment of danger in the story, it also brings the specific conflict into clearer focus: the unprecedented number of climbers on the mountain (all of whom are planning to summit on the same day) is making the climb more dangerous for everyone. Rob gets together with another guide, Scott Fischer, to try to organize the disparate groups.

First Pinch Point: The day of the climb begins (the turning point), and shortly thereafter the base camp crew notify Rob about an impending storm that may or may not hit the summit at the same time as the climbers (the pinch). A warning, such as this one, is often a spectacularly effective way to emphasize the antagonistic force and the stakes.

Midpoint: The majority of Rob’s group reaches the summit. Only one man lags behind, and against his better judgment, Rob stays behind to help him reach the summit, while the rest of his climbers turn around and head back down.

Note how the characters literally change directions here at the Midpoint. In the first half, they’re moving toward their goal; in the second half, they’re moving directly into the conflict. This is usually particularly obvious in stories that feature a human antagonist, but this movie provides a good example of how it can be done in man vs. nature conflicts.

Second Pinch Point: The massive storm hits the mountain, engulfing all of Rob’s climbers, as well as Scott, and catching Rob and the last of his climbers at the top. Now, the danger that has been threatening throughout the movie has finally hit with full force: the antagonistic force and the stakes are blatantly obvious.

Third Plot Point: Rob, stranded overnight on the mountain, is told at the end of the next day that the rescue team can’t reach him due to a new storm. Everyone realizes this is a death sentence.

Climax: The base camp crew sends in a helicopter to rescue the most badly injured of the surviving climbers.

Climactic Moment: The survivors finally stagger into the safety of base camp.

Resolution: Rob’s crew returns home to Australia to comfort his pregnant widow.

Notes: I viewed this movie in the theater and was therefore unable to keep an eye on the clock to time the plot points. I may be a little bit off on some of the second half moments, but this is my first-blush reaction.

Sign Up Today

hwba sidebar pic

Sign up to receive K.M. Weiland’s e-letter and receive her free e-book Crafting Unforgettable Characters: A Hands-On Introduction to Bringing Your Characters to Life.