The Great Range

After splitting from tropical Antarctica, the sub-Continent of India drifted to the northeast and, some 70 million years ago, began to collide with southern Asia. This collision, which continues today, has lifted the Himalayas, the youngest and highest mountain range on our planet. Stretching for 1500 miles, from northern Pakistan to Arunachai Pradesh, the northeasternmost province of India, the Himalayas are composed of three parallel ranges, increasing in elevation from south to north.

Capped by Mt. Everest, 29,035 feet (and rising), the Himalayas contain more than 100 peaks that exceed 23,500 feet and harbor the 15 highest summits on our planet. The perpetual snows and 15,000 glaciers of the higher Himalayas feed massive river systems, including the Indus of Pakistan and the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers of India and Bangladesh; the latter two rivers merge to empty into the Bay of Bengal, producing the largest river delta on Earth.

More than a spectacular wall of mountains, the Himalayas, like other major mountain ranges, have a dramatic effect on the regional climate, catching copious moisture from the Indian Ocean, protecting southern Asia from frigid winter air and producing a vast rain shadow across the high, dry, Tibetan Plateau. While their rate of formation continues to outpace the forces of erosion, the magnificent Himalayas will eventually be flattened to a level plain and the marine limestones that cap Mt. Everest may once again lie beneath a shallow sea.