Theatrical release: December 8, 2000.
Principal photography for VERTICAL LIMIT was in New Zealand, but there was also some location filming in Utah (the opening sequence), Parkistan (shots of the Baltoro glacier and of K2 itself), and in the Canadian Rockies. The locations used in New Zealand locations were in the mountainous regions around Mt. Cook and Queenstown. According to producer Lloyd Phillips, "In the Mt. Cook region we found locations which have a precarious high-altitude look." There were two days of filming at Nazomi Ridge, which Phillips says is "a little spindle of rock with a two to three thousand drop all around." The movie's K2 base camp was set up in the upper reaches of the ski field in The Remarkables, a mountain range near the resort town of Queenstown. The location for the Parkistani Military Base was Mt. Earnshaw, which is only assessable by helicopter, and which is also near Queenstown. As well as the extensive location shooting, some sequences for the movie were created in a 20,000 sq. ft. refrigerated sound stage that was built near Queenstown.
Climbing too fast at very high altitude can lead to climbers suffering from altitude sickness, which can produce dry cough, shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, confusion, fatigue and, more seriously, swelling of the lungs (pulmonary edema) or brain (cerebral edema). In VERTICALL LIMIT the trapped climbers take injections of Dexor Dexamethasene, a drug used by climbers to combat the effects of altitude sickness temporarily until they are able to return to lower altitudes.
Many mountain climbers assisted in various ways with the making of VERTICAL LIMIT. American Ed Visteurs from Seattle, Washington had already climbed Mount Everest five times and K2 once. K2 is the kind of peak he says, "that once you succeed in climbing it, you walk away and leave it at that." Visteurs appears as himself in the movie and was a climbing consultant. Canadian climber Barry Blanchard was responsible for the safety and training of VERTICAL LIMIT's actors. In 1988, Blanchard was hit by a blizzard while climbing the Nanga Parbat's Rupal Face. Nanga Parbat is the world's ninth highest mountain, and at 15,000 ft its Rupal Face is the highest mountain wall on the globe. Blanchard and his 3 companions only survived the blizzard because they found a duffel bag that had been anchored to the wall a year early by Japanese climbers who lost four of their climbers in a storm on the Rupal Face. On VERTICAL LIMIT, Canadian Roger Vernon photographed point-of-view shots of climbers from exposed ridges & dangerous positions not accessible to the movies First and Second Units. Vernon had been on the 1986 Everest expedition to locate the bodies of British climbers Mallory and Irvine. Three pre-eminent climbers from New Zealanders, Guy Cotter, Kim Logan and Mark Whetu, were among the more than fifty climbers who worked on VERTICAL LIMIT.
VERTICAL LIMIT's director, Martin Campbell, was born in New Zealand but has worked in England and the USA. He directed the very highly regarded British television miniseries EDGE OF DARKNESS (1986). He also directed two early Episodes of HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS (1993) one of which, THREE MEN AND ADENA, is one of television's most electrifying hours. Campbell went on to direct two blockbusters: GOLDENEYE (1995, with Pierce Brosnan as James Bond) which became highest grossing Bond film and revitalized the franchise; and the flamboyant swashbuckler THE MASK OF ZORRO (1998) which made a star out of Catherine Zeta-Jones, as well as providing hugely enjoyable performances from Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas.
Director of photography Derek Tattersall shot the climbing sequences with 27mm lenses or wider to achieve a high-contrast deep focus unfiltered look--the result is the exceptional clear images of VERTICAL LIMIT.