22 interesting facts about K2

K2 base camp trekAtlas & Boots

We share the most interesting facts about K2, gathered from years of reading, writing and dreaming about this notorious mountain

Rising from the Baltoro Glacier in the heart of the Karakoram is K2, one of Earth’s most remarkable mountains. Revered in the mountaineering world, the pyramidal peak is the ultimate challenge for climbers. The world’s elite alpinists have attempted its treacherous slopes. Several have conquered the summit, but many have lost their lives.

30 most beautiful mountains in the world

The most beautiful mountains in the world have captivated climbers for centuries. Here, we examine their lethal appeal

“You are not in the mountains. The mountains are in you,” said John Muir, the renowned naturalist, author and environmental philosopher.

If our resident seven-summit hopeful is an apt barometer, Muir makes a valid point. Those who spend time in the mountains seem to be driven by a deeper force. These brave men and women will face vertiginous vertical falls, sub-zero temperatures and 8,000m death zones in pursuit of their summit dreams. It’s in ode to them that we present this list.

Eight-thousanders: the 14 highest peaks in the world

The eight-thousanders are so ferocious that only 40 people have summited them all. We explain why they bewitch climbers all across the globe

Most boys grow out of their fascination with mountains and the great outdoors. Those that do not usually end up on the side of a mountain, asking ‘what the hell am I doing here?’ But, as the saying goes, the best alpinists have the worst memories and so they venture once again into the ether.

UNESCO’s newest World Heritage Sites

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From Inuit hunting grounds to sacred mountain monasteries, UNESCO’s newest World Heritage Sites have been formally recognised for their outstanding value

The aim of UNESCO’s list is to identify, protect and preserve sites of cultural and natural heritage considered to be of exceptional value to humanity. These sites include a range of locations such as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, east Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt and Machu Picchu in Peru.

To be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, nominated sites must be of “outstanding universal value” and meet at least one of 10 selection criteria.

10 most visited countries in the world

We profile some usual suspects plus one or two surprises in the top 10 most visited countries in the world

Have you dreamed of a romantic kiss atop the Eiffel Tower? Perhaps you’ve thrown a wish into the Trevi Fountain or stopped and stared at the Sistine Chapel. If so, you’re certainly not alone.

According to the latest UNWTO Tourism Highlights report, France and Italy are two of the most visited countries in the world.

12 largest rainforests in the world

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The largest rainforests in the world are some of the most vital ecosystems on our planet. We look at where they’re located and why they need protecting

Home to over half the world’s plant and animal species, the largest rainforests in the world absorb vast amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, helping maintain the balance of the air we breathe while simultaneously playing a critical role in curbing global warming.

10 long-distance hiking trails from around the world

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We look at some of the finest long-distance hiking trails from around the world.

I’m always looking for new outdoor challenges (to add to my current bucket list of climbing the seven summits and sailing the Pacific Ocean). Completing some epic long-distance hiking trails sounds like the perfect challenge for me.

Traipsing along quiet hiking trails in the backcountry for weeks on end is my idea of heaven (and I dare say Kia would enjoy the time away from me too!). But, which one to choose?

Dead heat: the hottest places on Earth

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We take a look at the hottest places on Earth and what it takes to survive there

Having just returned from Dallol in Ethiopia, we’ve seen how hard it is to survive in one of the hottest places on Earth.

The hottest places on earth are in constant flux. They change from year to year and recording techniques – which are often challenged and disputed – change with them. Regardless, the same places tend to crop up again and again, many of them sharing similar characteristics. The hottest places on Earth are nearly always dry, barren, sunny and home to little or no vegetation.

8 controversial mountain names from around the world

In partnership with PeakVisor

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Naming mountains is a thorny business. We take a look at some of the most controversial mountain names from around the world and explore just why they’ve inspired so much debate

As an avid hiker, climber and would-be mountaineer, I’ve long been fascinated with the mountains of the world and the history behind their names.

The first real mountain I ever climbed was Ben Nevis in bonnie Scotland. One would be forgiven for wondering who Ben was and why he has a mountain named after him. In fact, ‘Ben Nevis’ is the Anglicized form of the Scottish Beinn Nibheis, which means ‘mountain by the water’.

The seven second summits: a tougher challenge

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The seven second summits are considered to be a much harder mountaineering challenge than the more popular seven summits

Previously, I’ve  written about my dream of climbing the seven summits and laid out a realistic if not deeply challenging and expensive program of how to achieve that goal.

This week I look at the seven second summits; the second-highest mountains on each continent. The highest summits are a dream of mine, but I draw the line at the second-highest – they’re simply too scary for an amateur enthusiast like me!

The world’s most expensive cities for expats 2016

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Moving to a new country is one of the most expensive endeavours one can undertake. Enter Mercer’s 2016 Cost of Living ranking, a survey of the most expensive cities for expats.

With the UK recently voting in favour of Brexit, we at Atlas & Boots are reassessing our future. Prior to the result, we fully expected to return to France after our next big trip. Now we may have to look further afield. Whatever we decide, one useful way to choose where our future lies is to compare the cost of living in our new city compared to our old, currently London.

Sherpa film review: has it put me off climbing Everest?

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Is the plight of the Sherpa set to change with the release of Jennifer Peedom’s BAFTA-nominated and exhilarating new Sherpa film?

Let’s be clear about this: I have neither the skills nor the money to climb Everest. I’ve spoken several times about my long-running ambition to climb the seven summits, but I’m not so naïve that I can’t see it may forever remain a distant dream.

Naturally, this doesn’t stop me dreaming and I expect the allure of standing on top of the world will never really dissipate. However, after watching BAFTA-nominated documentary Sherpa, I am considering whether foreigners should be on the mountain at all.

Sherpa charts the Everest story from a perspective rarely seen and subtly asks the question: is continued foreign obsession with Everest bad for Nepal, Khumbu and the Sherpas?

What are the hardest languages to learn?

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The 10 hardest languages to learn for native English speakers based on data from the Foreign Service Institute at the US Department of State

We’ve written before about the best language to learn based on a number of different criteria. The verdict was French which, as a Romance language, is relatively easy for English speakers. (We stress the word ‘relatively’ because all language learning takes effort.)

Some of the most interesting data in the article comes from the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) at the US Department of State. The FSI trains diplomats in language learning and maintains an internal ranking of language difficulty (specifically, how long it would take a native English speaker to reach proficiency).

Here, we examine 10 of the hardest languages to learn based on FSI rankings.