I like to think of this thread as themed contribution; for 2012 I picked panos. 2013 was first year in a long time I did not venture out of Canada, something I intend to change in 2014. So my 2013 five-pack is tribute to some faraway places I visited over the years
1. The Lost City
In spring 2006 I spent a month trekking through Peru and Bolivia. While there were many awe-inspiring places, none made bigger impression than Machu Picchu - the Lost City of Incas. This photo was self-timed on little terrace, 5 minutes before departure of our bus that took us down to Aguas Calientes, and train to Cusco. Prior to this I trekked for 4 days classic Inca Trail; contrary to what some say, for me it was as much about end destination as it was about the journey. The imposing bluff in the backdrop is called Huayna Picchu (not unlike one of the Lions!). There is a nice trail up, scrambly at times but rope is there to assist you.
2. Snows of Kilimanjaro
February 2010 saw me reaching my first of Seven Summits. While Kilimanjaro is entirely trekking ("hands in your pockets"), altitude took its toll; summit night under howling winds and temperatures dipping to 20 degrees bellow zero was one of hardest of my life. Sense of accomplishment is hard to describe. Picture here shows famous Kili Glacier, some say will be gone in ~50 years (hopefully not). It is a short diversion from Crater Rim, halfway between Stella Point and Kili summit itself
3. Abu Simbel
Perhaps it was just a cause of expecting too much, but Egypt was disappointment. Polluted beyond reason - knee deep pile of trash in Alexandria where Pharos, one of original 7 wonders of Ancient World once stood; member of our group, guy from Vancouver who had access to UBC labs smuggled water taken from Nile in Cairo and had it examined - he says it was 4 times more dirty than levels at which City of Vancouver would close the beaches! Then beggars - 5 year old kids that can barely walk clinging on your pants all over Luxor and begging for money; "bakshish" is one of first words they learn. But things improved in Aswan, and journey south to ruins in Abu Simbel was personal highlight. Statue of Ramses II was so imposing; even tourist hordes swarming all around could not negate feeling of ancient awe
Everybody will recognize Opera House in Sydney backdropped with famous Harbour Bridge. I don't generally enjoy too much anything man-made, but this was an exception; I consider this place one of true icons of this planet.
5. Everest Base Camp
A friend asked me recently "Why don't you go climb Mt. Everest"? He is not outdoors person; he knows I like to scramble here in Western Canada, and reading about some Everest expedition he thought I should give it a shot (There is no bigger testimony how much Everest has commercialized; for 55-60K companies like Jagged Globe will escort you to the summit). Despite my explanations about altitude, mountaineering skills, etc etc he still cold not quite understand it. Photo here was taken in October 2007, and is as far as I can get in this life. I spent 3 weeks trekking through Khumbu; Everest Base Camp was the culmination. In the background is famous Khumbu Ice Fall; first obstacle on path that leads from Base Camp towards the summit.