Tourist photos are by now a centuries-old cliché, particularly in the case of those landmarks that have been photographed millions of times over. But a group of Russian photographers just found a way to spice up their shots of so cliché a subject as Egypt’s Great Pyramids — by climbing to the top of them.
The photographers hid out from guards for four hours after the pyramids’ public closing time, according to Gawker. When the coast was clear, they ascended the Great Pyramid of Giza, a trespassing crime that carries a punishment of years in prison. One assumes that the climb was made simpler by the pyramid’s stepped structure, but it can’t have been too easy, considering the monument is 450 feet tall.
The photos resulting from the expedition are nothing less than stunning. They’re views that haven’t been seen publicly for decades, and with advances in photo technology, the sprawling vistas look better than ever. The other pyramids stick out of the landscape like giant sandcastles and the lights of modern Cairo shine in the distance over the horizon.
The adventurous climbers also bring to mind a burgeoning genre of death-defying photography. In Russia, “skywalking” involves climbing high structures without any safety equipment and documenting the perilous perches. The photos are so ridiculously vertigo-inducing that they look fake, but they are terribly real. Vitaly Raskalov and Alexander Remnov are two skywalkers whose work in Russia has recently gone viral.
Possibly the most terrifying example of skywalking to be published as of late is National Geographic photographer Joe McNally’s shot of his own two feet on top of the spire of the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The tower is 2,716 feet tall, just over half a mile.
Giza seems almost tame in comparison, but the photographs from the latter are still far more epic. Maybe it’s just the magic of the pyramids.
Join Hyperallergic for an online conversation with Kiowa Tribal Museum Director Tahnee Ahtone on January 25 at 7pm (EST).
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