I once found myself on top of a cliff in Country Mayo Ireland. My husband and I, dumb tourists that we were, had driven past road closed signs and ignored warnings of seasonal winds to get to edge of the earth and stare 2000 feet down into the wild blue water of the Atlantic. A gust of wind came along that was so strong that it made us both hit the ground, grabbing on to rocks and brush and thinking the same thing. We could get blown off of this damn thing and not a soul would know what had happened to us. My husband reached for his camera. I thought, I’m going to write about this someday. In c3, I finally did.
In my first draft of c3, Haley rappels down the side of a 2000 foot cliff, but in later versions I reduced it to 1600 feet to make it more believable. I was worried that a 2000 foot cliff pushed the bounds of credibility. Later I did some research and I discovered how wrong I was.
Where is the largest cliff? It depends.The highest cliffs on land are in Pakistan. One side of Nanga Parbat slopes slightly, but rises up an amazing 15,000 feet above its base. The highest almost true vertical cliff is the east face of Great Trango in northern Pakistan and it is close to 6000 feet straight up (or straight down).
If you’re looking for cliffs that drop into the ocean, the north face of Mitre Peak, in New Zealand drops almost 5000 feet, although it slopes outward a little. The Southern tip of Greenland has the biggest nearly vertical drop and it is almost 5000 feet too.The biggest drop straight down can be found on Baffin Island. It’s 4500 feet down (or up).
If you’re willing to look under the ocean, there is an almost 25,000 foot drop into the Kermadec Trench. If you’re willing to look off- planet, a moon of Uranus called Miranda has a twelve mile (60,000 foot) drop that no one is likely to be rappelling off of any time soon.
So sending one of my heroes over the edge of a mere 1600 foot cliff didn’t turn out to be so fantastic after all.