In late 1983 William Thompson, on assignment for National Geographic Magazine, photographed Mt. Everest from the air. He photographed at 28,000 feet through the open door of a small aircraft, as well as from an especially outfitted Lear Jet brought from Sweden. The imagery in this book is a small representation of virtually thousands of remarkable images of Mt. Everest and the Top of the World. This amazing work was created in a cauldron of the ongoing geopolitical intrigue, extant even today. To overfly Tibet required a delicate and difficult navigation of the political, social and religious landscapes of China, India, Tibet and Nepal. This was accomplished through ten years of building partnerships and personal ties through the efforts of Brad Washburn, the Boston Museum of Science, and the National Geographic Society. The sublime beauty of these images illuminates that, while this is some of the most perilous terrain on the planet, it is also some of the most architecturally beautiful. The peril exists not only for the mountaineer who climbs these peaks, but also for the photographer and pilots, as the process of making these images at extreme altitudes was exceptionally dangerous. These images present a fresh and rare view of the border between emerging superpowers and their often vulnerable smaller neighbors. In this geopolitical scenario, each player has greatly varying perspectives, histories and agendas. It is this composite and comparison of the unflinching beauty, danger and immensity of the natural world within such a politically contested landscape that makes these photographs so compelling.
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