WATCH trailer
watch film

K2 AND THE INVISIBLE FOOTMEN (Cultures of Resistance Films)

Directed and produced by iara lee
Cinematography and editing by Jawad Sharif
Located on the border between Pakistan and China, K2 is the second-highest mountain on Earth. For many climbers, it is an even greater prize than Everest, with limited routes, a steeper ascent, and a harder push to its summit. Nicknamed the ‘Savage Mountain,’ K2’s peak juts unprotected into the atmosphere, regularly exposing climbers and porters to life-threatening weather conditions.
Despite being paid at rates far below those received by international expedition leaders, such porters—whether they provide critical supplies to expedition base camps or take on higher-altitude tasks in support of ascending climbers—do some of the most difficult and dangerous work and these efforts make them worthy of recognition as the true heroes of mountaineering.
In K2 AND THE INVISIBLE FOOTMEN, filmmaker iara lee and team chronicle the lives of both Pakistani porters and Nepalese sherpas. The film also follows the first official all-Pakistani climbing team, made up of former porters, who successfully summited in 2014, in celebration of K2 60th anniversary. Amid breathtaking scenery, the film depicts the everyday sacrifices of porters and the courage of those indigenous climbers who choose to return to scale K2 in spite of past tragedies. In their striving to perfect their craft, these mountaineers provide a fresh look into the cultures and national traditions of Pakistan, a country typically portrayed in the foreign media as merely a land of conflict and sectarian strife.
about the director
people in the film
film press coverage
audience feedback
take action
credits & tech sheet

K2: A Timeline of Mountaineering

To provide a thorough context behind K2 and the Invisible Footmen, Cultures of Resistance Films has compiled a timeline of the major events that shaped the mountain’s history, from the 1856 European survey that gave K2 its name to the landmark all-Pakistani expedition in 2014. In the intervening century and a half, K2 was the site of spirited international competition, tragic climbing accidents, and remarkable feats of mountaineering. These accomplishments, however, would have been impossible without the skilled local porters and climbers who live in the shadow of the great mountain.
Learn More


This film is dedicated to Amir Mehdi, the high-altitude porter from Pakistan who lost all of his toes to frostbite while supporting the first successful ascent of K2 in 1954.
For more photos of Mehdi, click here.
To learn more about the life of Amir Mehdi and his role in the historic 1954 K2 excursion, read the BBC’s story Amir Mehdi: Left Out to Freeze on K2 and Forgotten.
Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from Youtube
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google