March 18, 2013
Top Of The World: Google Maps Show Off Everest And Other Peaks
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
It was George Leigh Mallory who may have famously replied to the question “why do you want to climb Mount Everest” with the answer “because it´s there.” Whether he actually said those words or not is left to the ages, but what is certain is that Mallory and his climbing partner Andrew Irvine likely never made it to the summit of the world´s highest peak. Even if they did, which has been left to debate, the pair didn´t make it back to tell the tale.
What is also known is that Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay did become the first to reach the Asian summit and make it back in 1953. Their exploits have inspired climbers for the past 60 years, and now Google is offering up street views of parts of Mount Everest, the summits of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, Mount Elbrus in Europe and Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America.
Google has provided these 360-degree photos, which were taken using a tripod and digital camera with a fish-eye lens. This included equipment that is typically used for its Business Photos Program. These views are collected in the Google Street View Collections: The World´s Highest Peaks.
In reality, Google didn´t exactly go to the very top of the world. However, it is offering a street view from the Aconcagua summit, which at more than 22,800 feet in elevation and is the highest point the search giant's Street View has ever been.
“Now you can explore some of the most famous mountains on Earth, including Aconcagua (South America), Kilimanjaro (Africa), Mount Elbrus (Europe) and Everest Base Camp (Asia) on Google Maps. These mountains belong to the group of peaks known as the Seven Summits–the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. While there´s nothing quite like standing on the mountain, with Google Maps you can instantly transport yourself to the top of these peaks and enjoy the sights without all of the avalanches, rock slides, crevasses, and dangers from altitude and weather that mountaineers face,” Google posted on its official blog on Monday.
In order for Google to bring such stunning images to computer screens everywhere, someone had to actually go out and actually climb these peaks and take these fish-eye shots.
This fell — in a good way of course — to the Google Mountain Enthusiast team, which was led by Dan Fredinburg, a technical program manager for security and privacy at the search giant, as well as a skilled mountaineer.
“There´s a social benefit to using these tools to tell the story in these environments. A chance to really connect to what´s on the ground with a rich imagery so they can see what it looks like and feels like to be there,” Fredinberg told Wired magazine.
The Google team trekked to Mount Everest last October, making it to the Everest South Base Camp in Nepal, which is nearly 17,600 feet above sea level. Fredinberg reportedly pressed the guides to take him higher, but the guides refused, suggesting that the risks of dying were about 100 percent!
In fact the trip was not without its risks already. During the Everest expedition there had been mudslides, snowstorms and even an earthquake. Fortunately those who look to the images of the base camp can enjoy the view with no such risks or hazards themselves.