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Arts & Culture

Richard Bangs' Adventures With Purpose: Switzerland: Quest For The Sublime

Richard Bangs stands at Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland.
Small World Productions
Richard Bangs stands at Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland.

Airs Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

If there is one word that writers through the centuries have used to describe the great peaks, the glaciers, waterfalls, and grand scenery of Switzerland, it is the word “sublime.” Many consider Switzerland the birthplace of adventure travel, the wellspring for ecotourism, the spur for organized tours into the wilds. But what is it that makes this vault of nature so sublime? In fact what exactly does sublime mean, and what is its sensibilities and applications here and now?

In "Switzerland: Quest For The Sublime," we join explorer Richard Bangs as he delves into how Switzerland’s alpine beauty helped inspire today’s ecotourism movement. Bangs’ quest is to discover the roots of adventure travel and to search for what philosophers and poets of earlier times called "the sublime."

Bangs hikes the Swiss Trail along the edge of Lake Lucerne. He begins in Lucerne—the gateway to the Alps—stops at Mt. Pilatus and Entlebuch Valley, travels on to world-renown St. Moritz then boards the famous Glacier Express train. Bangs side-trips to the Jungfrau region, and finally lands in Zermatt to experience the rapture of a deadly mountain that helped change our perception of nature—the Matterhorn.

Trailer: Switzerland: Quest For The Sublime