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The world’s most vertigo-inducing views

Vertigo-inducing views

Don’t look down! Cracks appeared last week in this 1,353 feet high Chicago skydeck

Imagine you are tourist Alejandro Garibay last week. There you are, 1,353 feet above Chicago with butterflies in your stomach as you edge out onto the glass floor of the Willis Tower’s Skydeck. You see thin air beneath your feet. Can this thing really hold five tons? You swallow your fear as you ready your camera. CRACK! What the hell? Glass is breaking!

Luckily for Alejandro and his family, the cracks in the Skydeck were just the protective coating shattering, not the glass floor itself. The words ‘glass’, ‘shatter’ and ‘1,353 feet up’ are not what you want to hear if you’re afraid of heights. It may be a while before Alejandro steps onto a skydeck.

That would be a shame, because new toughened glass technology has made possible some truly head-spinning views in recent years. Most famous is the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass walkway hovering 4,000 feet above the Colorado River.

Naturally this has led to some one-upmanship. Macho Australians won’t admit to being scared of a little thing like a 1,000 foot drop. Not when there’s poncey glass to stand on. So when the owners of Melbourne’s Eureka Skydeck felt like shaking up the folks gathered in the Skydeck for a function, they dangled a giant King Kong paw outside the glass and had an actress sit in it, screaming. Not much acting required here.

The Chinese, naturally, have raised the stakes. Their Skywalk X is a 764ft-high open ledge around the outside of the Macau Tower. It has no glass and no handrail. You’re expected to strap yourself on and then walk around it as the cold wind plucks at your shirt and a yawning chasm of death beckons. Or you could react like these guys and take the opportunity to practice some kung fu.

Vertigo can be a luxury, of course. When they built the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore they had a brainwave. Instead of putting the lawns, the barbecue area, the sun loungers and the swimming pool on the ground, why not put them on the roof? Problem: the hotel is three separate skyscrapers. Solution: balance an insane ‘Skypark’ across all three of them like a gigantic plank. Its infinity pool is probably the world’s most terrifying place to take a relaxing swim.

None of this is new. As long as people have been scared of heights, people have been building things for them to be scared on. There’s hot competition over who’s the world’s scariest cable car: is it this one at TianMenShan in China? Or this one at Masada in Israel? Is the world’s most dangerous road the Camino Del Muerte in Bolivia or the Rohtang Pass in the Himalayas? Is the Val Thorens Zipwire in Switzerland scarier at 3,200 feet than the longer, faster 700ft-high Zipworld in Wales?

Perhaps the only way to decide the world’s most vertigo-inducing experience is to count the YouTube hits. Ten million people have watched the below video of Spain’s Camino Del Rey, a walkway cut into cliffs a hundred years ago and fallen into disrepair. Why? See for yourself…

Photo: Jackman Chiu / Flickr.com

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