Why We Made Kingdoms of the Sky

Last Updated by Steve Greenwood on
Extreme mountaineer Hilaree O'Neil climbing in the San Juan Mountains.
Brett Schreckengost/BBC
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author. 

I was seven years old when I climbed my first mountain – Ingleborough, in the Yorkshire Dales. It was only 723 metres high but I felt like the king of the hill, looking down over the world stretched out below me. It’s a sensation I’ve never forgotten. All these years later I hoped to put that feeling into this series.

"I believe mountains make us feel differently about the world."

I believe mountains make us feel differently about the world. They give us a different perspective on life. It doesn’t matter whether the highest peak we have scaled is Everest or the Brecon Beacons – anyone who’s hiked to the top has sensed that awe and wonder.

That was the mood we wanted for this series. It’s also the reason why we wanted people to have a place in the series. Not only are humans a part of those mountain ecosystems, but our contributors can articulate what it feels like to have a life high up in the great mountain ranges of the world, whether it is a Buddhist monk or a dare-devil extreme skier.

The three episodes all have a very different feel. Himalaya is the land of great extremes – the air is the thinnest, the mountains the highest. It is a land that can be grand, or terrifying. The Andes, because they stretch from south to north, pass through many different climatic zones. It is the mountain range of hidden worlds, each with their own specialist.

The Rockies is the great temperate mountain range of the world where the weather can change on a dime - it is hard to know whether to pack shorts or snowshoes! Here it is all about the romance of the Wild West and I wanted the film to be unashamedly dramatic – whether it was the lightning storms that illuminate the mountain ponds– or the ’Blair witch ‘ style telling of the cougars in the ghost ranch.

The result is three very different films about three very different mountain ranges, but united - I hope – by that sense of wonder I first felt as a seven year old up the top of the Yorkshire Dales.

— Steve Greenwood, Series Producer

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