Wednesdays, July 11, 18 and 25 at 9 PM ET on PBS
(Check your local listings)
KINGDOMS OF THE SKY, a new three-part series made in conjunction with the BBC’s Natural History Unit, explores the extraordinary animals and remarkable people that make their home in three of the most iconic mountain ranges of the world: the Rockies, the Himalaya and the Andes. Filmed over the course of two years and featuring breathtaking photography, the series journeys to the highest and most isolated places on the planet to reveal how animals and people survive in these rugged terrains.
"The Rockies" airs on July 11. Stretching 3,000 miles and forming the spine of North America, this is beautiful wilderness of snow-capped peaks and hidden valleys. The episode begins in winter in Wyoming, where male bighorn sheep fight for access to mates, a wolverine looks for food hidden deep in the snow in the Canadian north and, in Colorado, mountaineer and extreme skier Hilaree Nelson O’Neill climbs Mount Sneffels and skis down a steep couloir. In spring, a mountain lion stalks a deserted Montana ranch searching for mule deer, while tiger salamanders feast in the temporary ponds of Colorado, turning into cannibals when the food supply runs short. Human daredevils — wingsuit flyers — leap from mile-high cliffs in Montana. In the height of summer, rufous hummingbirds raise their young in tiny nests. These birds have the greatest migration in the whole of the Rockies, flying all the way to the south and beyond, to Mexico, following the flowers. The climax of the episode is the Indian Relay, a breakneck horse race of bravery and split-second timing at the county fair in Kalispell, Montana.
"The Andes" airs on July 25. The longest mountain range in the world is home to dozens of hidden worlds, from the driest desert on Earth to cloud forests teeming with life. There are vertical peaks towering over 20,000 feet, but the Andes are also home to the flattest place on earth – a huge salt flat with a bizarre light show every night. In the southern Andes, a puma family hunts guanaco, a relative of the llama. In the Atacama Desert, a lizard thrives in the driest place on Earth. In the rugged peaks of the central Andes, a spectacled bear searches burned hillsides to discover hidden springs for a drink – and a bath. Descendants of the Incas harvest mountain grass and weave it into a bridge across a gorge, a ceremony performed since the time when Machu Picchu was an Incan royal palace. Rarely seen magnificent snow sculptures decorate mountaintops high in Peru, carved by the wind from snow and ice. In the tropical Andes, cloud forests perch on mountainsides, home to tens of thousands of species, including a newly discovered “shape-shifting” frog that can change color and shape when in danger. The only glacier-nesting birds in the world — white-winged Diuca finches — raise their young on the Quelccaya glacier, where the danger to the chicks is not the cold, but the heat of the sun as it melts the face of the glacier.