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October 30th, 2012

Heights excite and attract us whether we want to see an awesome view, challenge our nerves and climbing skills, or enjoy it all from a safe seat with popcorn. So it’s no surprise that altitude appeals to movie-makers.

The spectacularly inaccessible Pindus mountain-tops in Greece provided a lair for the Bond-villain in For Your Eyes Only. Plenty of scope for fraying ropes, slipping anchor-pins and bad guys standing on the hero’s fingers.

Would you recognise this lofty forest scene as part of Eastwood and Burton’s thrilling snow-bound escape-route from the grim Schloss Adler in Where Eagles Dare? Today, you can ride the route inside the cable-car, for 20 euros.

The dazzlingly desolate Peruvian Andes featured memorably in Touching the Void. The horror of frozen peaks and deadly crevasses, the infinite loneliness and inspiring self-reliance of the real-life stars is genuinely awesome.

Switzerland’s Verzasca dam supplied several silent sensational seconds of bungee-jumping spectacle in the opening minutes of Goldeneye. The 220m drop can be enjoyed by brave visitors, for around £175.

Hitchcock understood how to thrill, and North by Northwest arguably delivered more vertigo than Vertigo. Even Bart Simpson’s Hallowe’en Treehouse of Horror XX includes Hitch-references to Mount Rushmore.

Everest may get most visitors and headlines, but the second-highest mountain is much harder to climb. The film K2 left audiences almost as breathless as the oxygen-deprived climbers, and relied upon nature to supply the danger, unlike Cliffhanger

…although Stallone’s film did include a fabulously scary bridge, actually to be found in Spain:

On another walk in the sky, Entrapment saw Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones escaping from a heist using millennium-celebration decorations, rigged between the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. It seems even when retired, Bond retains his head for heights!

October 10th, 2012

Sports attract all sorts, and outdoor activities appeal to almost everyone. But for some, outdoors isn’t far enough; they go far outside mainstream fun to find fulfilment.

Fond of a sail on the reservoir? Frank Dye took his dinghy across the notoriously rough North Sea to Iceland and Norway. Mrs Dye made the tea and modelled wind-proof woollen headgear.

How about a walk in the country? Hugh Munro and Alfred Wainwright spent so long climbing dramatic scenery, the landscapes they loved have adopted their names.

Numerous not-so-easy-riders take part in each year’s Race Across America. From the west coast, it covers 3000 miles and doesn’t stop until riders reach the opposite side of the continent. The course goes through 14 states, with climbs totaling 100,000 feet.

Freediving is underwater-swimming without aqualung. Several minutes, sixty feet deep, requires a very deep breath! But the Bajau gent in this video is looking for lunch, not medals:

Determined canoeist Andrew McAuley drowned just short of achieving his exhausting ambition: to kayak from Tasmania to New Zealand, across 1000 miles of lonely, unforgiving Southern Ocean.

Professional tree-climbing competitions are held around the world. Arborists demonstrate skilled climbing techniques and innovations in equipment…

…but if that’s too low-ball, in 1974 Philippe Petit high-wired a quarter-mile above New York, between the towers of the World Trade Centre. Flares were big, that year…

…but if that wasn’t lofty enough, in 1982 Larry Walters (with no prior experience), attached 42 helium weather balloons to a lawn chair and lifted off. He rose nearly 3 miles until, seeing no other way of getting down, he eventually shot several of the balloons, initiating his descent.

Head4Heights promises the same spirit of adventure, with much safer landings!

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