Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The world’s highest reaches

Executive summary by darmansjah

When I follow the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth.” Ptolemy.

WHEN we raise our eyes from the ground and see the sky-or when we stand high above the world and look down upon the clouds-we feel ourselves lifted to another level of existence. We so clearly belong to the earth that to experience life at the heights is to become something else entirely, less human and more celestial. Even when the sky is frightening it is, quite truly, uplifting.

This may explain, at least in part, why we are awed by and attracted to high places, and also to those plants, animals, and natural features that make their homes in the sky. To see the world’s highest reaches means stepping out of our earthbound skins for a little while. The redwood tree is impressive not just for sheer size or age, but also because it overtops all other living things. The high plateau of Bolivia and the secluded reaches of Machu Picchu take us into a realm few people have known, one of keening winds and huge-winged, soaring birds. Mount Everest, lure and bane of so many a climber, gives humans a God’s-eye view, a perspective they know they were not born to experience. And perhaps the most breathtaking of all, the northern light, take our familiar night sky and make it dance. Suddenly we realize we are just tiny beings on a planet surrounded by crackling energies. Reaching into the heights means entering into a fantasy world where we shed our human forms and briefly know what it is to fly.

Sheer Immensity

A string of climbers makes its way across the sheer sides of the Krakoram Range’s K2 *28,251 feet/8,611 m), the second highest mountain in the world. Known as the Savage Mountain, it is one of the most dangerous destinations on Earth.

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