Skip to content

Conquering the Impossible: A Review of Cerro Torre: A Snowball's Chance in Hell

An inspiring tale of human perseverance against all odds, set against the stunning backdrop of Patagonia.

Keywords: Cerro Torre, David Lama, mountaineering, resilience, determination, Patagonia, adventure, documentary, Summary Words: Inspiring, Adventurous, Perseverance


"Cerro Torre: A Snowball's Chance in Hell" is a gripping documentary directed by Thomas Dirnhofer and released in 2013. It chronicles the arduous journey of David Lama, the world's youngest climbing world champion, as he attempts to scale Cerro Torre, once touted as the most difficult mountain in the world. In an era where pushing the boundaries of human endurance and determination are increasingly central, this documentary stands as a testament to the human spirit.


Set against the surreal beauty of Patagonia, Lama sets out to conquer an impossible path on Cerro Torre, a daunting mountain that has claimed many lives. The film follows Lama’s overwhelming journey, from the rigorous training to the eventual climb, capturing the raw emotions, unexpected setbacks, and stunning triumphs.

More Film Analysis



Dirnhofer's documentary is investigative and participatory, delving deep into Lama's psyche and the extreme challenges he faces. The film offers in-depth exploration of mountaineering, augmenting it with quality research about Cerro Torre and the inherent dangers of climbing it. The presentation style is immersive, making viewers feel as if they are part of the journey.

Historical and Factual Context


Cerro Torre is a mountain located in the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, on the border between Argentina and Chile. Its unique shape and treacherous weather conditions have made it one of the most challenging climbs in the world.

Key themes in the film

  • The power of resilience and determination in overcoming challenges
  • The beauty and danger of nature
  • The human fascination with conquering the impossible

Film Comparisons

Unlike other climbing documentaries on iWonder, "Cerro Torre: A Snowball's Chance in Hell" focuses not just on the physical journey, but also the mental and emotional struggles faced by climbers.

Noteworthy Moments

One significant revelation in the documentary is when Lama finally conquers Cerro Torre, a moment that symbolises the triumph of human will against all odds.


The documentary received positive reviews, with audiences praising its breathtaking cinematography and compelling narrative.


"Cerro Torre: A Snowball's Chance in Hell" is an inspiring documentary that offers a riveting exploration of human perseverance and the relentless pursuit of dreams. It is recommended for viewers interested in adventure, mountaineering, and human-interest stories.

More film information:


  • IMDB score: 7
  • Awards: 4 wins



  • David Lama: Youngest climbing world champion in history
  • Thomas Dirnhofer: Acclaimed documentary filmmaker



  • Cerro Torre, Patagonia

Key Questions raised by the film:

  • What does it take to conquer the impossible?
  • How does one prepare mentally and physically for such a challenge?
  • What drives individuals to risk their lives in pursuit of their dreams?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form

Image 1
Image 2
Image 3
  1. A famous book, it would be "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer because of its themes of mountaineering and human resilience.
  2. A famous song, it would be "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor for its message of determination and overcoming challenges.
  3. A famous piece of art, it would be "The Persistence of Memory" by Salvador Dali as it symbolises endurance and time.
  4. A famous celebrity, it would be Bear Grylls, renowned for his survival skills and adventurous spirit.
  5. A colour, it would be blue, representing the towering ice formations of Cerro Torre and the challenges they pose.
  6. A music style, it would be classical, for its grandeur and emotional depth, matching the intensity and scale of Lama's journey.