Ski Mountaineering

Views from the top

June and July, 2019

Reiner Stenzel

All mountaineers enjoy the view from the top of a high mountain. A fine view is also possible from high buildings and even higher, from an airplane. This short story shows pictures from both adventures.

In June, I had the chance to "climb" the highest building in New York, the One World Trade Center (1,792') in central Manhatten. One takes an elevator which ferries visitors 100 floors up and down within a few minutes. On a clear day the view over the city is spectacular, which is shown in the first picture.

Another adventure was a flight from Europe to the US in a Jumbo Jet with window seat. When flying from east to west the day seems never ending and offers a great chance to take pictures, provided the clouds do not cover the view. My plane did the northern route through Greenland which is exciting since it is covered with glaciers and mountains and remains a true wilderness. In October 2007 I passed over Southern Greenland and collected some nice pictures, too.

The second pictures show the start at Munich, Germany and with an Airbus, taking off at 4pm and landing at 7pm in San Francisco, thus providing permanent daylight. The route is indicated with a GPS in the plane. Much of Europe and the North Atlantic were covered by clouds, but at the coast of Greenland the mountains and glaciers became visible. Immense glaciers with fields of crevasses showed their slow flow into the sea. At the interface the glacier calves, i.e. releases huge blocks of ice which drift away as icebergs. A small white spot, seen from nearly 40,000' altitude, is actually a mountain of ice. Chunks of ice of all sizes drift away in meandering flows. Bigger "islands" of ice exhibit strange lines, possibly formed by the melting of ice and formations of water streams. No patterns remain when the ice melts and the rock is dry.

When the plane flies over northern Canada the landscape is a mixture of rocks, lakes and interrupted by some meandering streams. The next exciting region was the Rocky Mountain Range in British Columbia, where we once skied at the Durrand Glacier Chalet in the Selkirks near Revelstoke and the Canadian High Route (Wapta Traverse).

Further south in WA and OR an interesting pattern showed up. The dark forested land was interrupted by squares of deforestation. It was an obvious cas of clear cutting which is not easily visible from roads since the trees remained untouched on either side. The empty areas were partially reforested.

Finally we reached California, but did not cross the Sierras. Above San Francisco the air was clear and some nice pictures were obtained. It was a productive and enjoyable 12 hour flight.

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