Arts: Those Dazzling Himalayan Mountains

The most extraordinary landscape in all creation is the Himalaya mountain region in Nepal, China, Tibet, India, Bhutan and Pakistan. These are by far the world’s tallest and most rugged peaks, and there are links below to many fantastic photos.

Only God could have made a place of such surreal beauty. The center of the Himalayas is the nation of Nepal which has the most high peaks including Mount Everest, even though Nepal is only about the size of North Carolina.

The Himalayas stretch in an arc 1,300 miles long from Pakistan in the northwest to Bhutan in the southeast. There are detailed maps of the Himalayan region on this German website which also has tons of other information and a huge number of photos that are very enjoyable. You can even translate the site into English.

If you click on the site’s pictures and then click again you can see incredible detail of what these mountains look like, including many panorama shots. They are spectacular from the bird’s-eye view.

Surprisingly the Himalayas lie in a warm latitude. The mega-peak called K2, at 28,251 ft., second highest in the world after Everest, is the same latitude as the very warm US state of Georgia (32 degrees north latitude) while Mount Everest (29,029 feet), 1,000 miles to the southeast, is the same as sunny, hot Florida (28 degrees north latitude).

The Swiss Alps, on the other hand, lie near the latitude of Montreal, Canada (45 degrees north) while many Alaskan peaks are close to the Arctic Circle (66 degrees north).

It is only the Himalayas’ elevation and their landlocked geography that make these mountains snowy and cold for most of the year. Meanwhile just 200 miles south of Everest is steamy India.

We all have heard about Mount Everest, but there are hundreds of extraordinary peaks in the Himalayas. The Nepalese name for Everest is Sagarmatha or “mother of the universe”. Everest is named after a Welshman, Colonel Sir George Everest (1790-1866) who was the surveyor general of India from 1830 through 1843.

K2 is at the western end of the Himalayan chain, in northern Pakistan, and is considered the toughest mountain to climb. It is a very impressive sight with its bold pyramidal geometry, and it is called The Savage Mountain since one out of four people who have reached the summit have died on the descent.

While only about 300 professional climbers have summited K2, more than 3,000 have summited Everest including thousands of amateur climbers who pay tens of thousands of dollars to be guided to the top by professionals.

K2 was considered the world’s highest peak until more accurate measurements showed Everest to be higher.

The name K2 was the notation used in the trigonometric survey by Thomas Montgomerie in the 1850s. He labeled the most prominent peaks K1, K2, K3 and so on. The K stood for the Karakoram range that the mountains are located in.

K1 is now known as Masherbrum while the other Ks reverted to their lyrical native names as most other Himalayan peaks are so identified like Chogolisa, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum, Himal Chuli, Hachindar Chhish, Ama Dablam, Tahu Rutum, Baintha Brakk and hundreds of others.

To get a feeling for what it would be like to climb into these mountains, there are computer-generated 3D videos on YouTube. You can see an animated trip up K2 here. In just seven minutes time you can get a real feel for what this barren, rocky and otherworldly land looks like. Wow. And remember when you watch these videos that climbers would be barely visible specks. These mountains are gigantic.

Nanga Parbat, 26,660 ft., is 9th tallest peak in the world. It is called the “killer mountain” and is located in Pakistan. This striking photo appears to show a major avalanche on the north side. On its south side Nanga Parbat has the highest mountain face in the world, the Rupal Face. Nanga Parbat has the second highest “prominence” in the world after Everest, i.e., it rises second most above its surroundings.

These YouTube videos list links to other videos. You can search each of these peak names to see mountaineering videos, some of which show the brutal conditions under which these mountains have been scaled by teams from all over the world.

Here are just a few more of the outstanding Himalayan peaks:

*Muztagh Tower, Pakistan, way down at 91st highest in the world, is 23,871 ft. It is one of my favorites with its fractured top. Muztagh is close to K2 in Pakistan. It looks like it is going to tip over in this photo! Amazing…

*This beauty is Gasherbrum IV, the 17th tallest in the world, 26,024 feet, one of seven Gasherbrum (“beautiful mountain” in Balti, a Pakistani language) sister peaks. The Gasherbrums are in the Karakoram range and are close neighbors to K2.

*Here is Himal Chuli in Nepal, west of Mt. Everest, 18th highest in the world at 25,896 ft. This view is from the warmer, lower land in the south. It shows the striking contrasts to be found in the Himalayan region since it is such a warm latitude.

*This is Mount Kailash, in southern China, at 21,778 ft. It is significant to Hindus in that Lord Shiva, the Destroyer (of evil) is believed to live at the top. Therefore climbing is not allowed. Religious pilgrimages routinely circle the base of the mountain. Kailash is on the outer fringe of the Himalayan chain.

*These are some of the ‘lower’ formations near K2. They have the world’s tallest cliffs that reach more than 20,000 feet. They are renowned rock climbing pinnacles like the famous Trango Tower at center left, in the background. Yes, they climb straight up its 1-mile rock face.

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