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The High Peaks of the Urals

Ural Mountains

For the most part, the Ural Mountains are a tame and forgettable mountain range, nestled away in the northern and snow-encrusted regions of Asiatic Russia. Yet in the northern Ural Mountains, at the border of the Komi and Yamalo-Nenets provinces, there is a tight circular formation of extremely tall and jagged mountains known as the "High Peaks of the Urals." Extreme wind tunnels are known to exist in the entire region and as a result, planes usually give the area a wide berth. In the early 1900s, the British Cartographic Society sent an expedition to map out the "High Peaks of Upper Komi" as they were then called. The expedition included the famous cartographer, Professor Micah Nathan of Aberdeen College, who had made a life study of this region. He and his entire expedition disappeared before ever entering the High Peaks. They were last seen in the vicinity of Straszydlo Forest. Today, in the city of Vorkuta, you can find a statue honoring Professor Nathan's bravery.

The High Peaks of the Urals are perpetually windswept, cold and inhospitable. Nothing grows there, and most geologists, including the esteemed members of the Geology Department at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, believe the area is a poor bet for mining operations. Although they are extremely tall, the High Peaks are not the very tallest in the world, and therefore, they are of little interest to professional explorers. After the terrible circumstances of the Nathan party, the High Peaks have been forgotten. They are too dangerous for anyone interested in living, but not tall enough or rich enough to merit the world’s attention.

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