You too can climb Everest – from your living room


My post a couple of days ago about the first Sri Lankan to climb Everest sparked an interesting discussion about these climbs. Would you like to see what it is like to get to the top of Mount Everest but think it’s too damn dangerous? Well, you can follow the trek taken by most climbers to get to the summit and, once you get there, have a 3D view of the world below you.

The video pauses at the place where in 2014, 16 Sherpas were killed in an ice avalanche. The video has been cleaned up to get rid of images and signs of the many people who died on the trek and whose bodies remain on the slopes. Rob Beschizza links to them if you want to see those gruesome aspects. I don’t recommend it but climbers pass them on their trek, which must be a deeply sobering experience. There have been calls for a moratorium on summit ascents until a concerted international effort is made to recover all these bodies and to clean up all the trash that climbers leave behind.

What surprised me was that there was less snow than I expected, even allowing for the fact that climbs take place when it is summer in the northern hemisphere. While I enjoyed the video experience of the climb, it makes the climb look easy and I worry that weekend hikers may think, “Hey, I could do that!” and lead to yet more tragedies. Leaving intact the images of the dead that you would see along the way might be a reminder of how dangerous the climb actually is but would too macabre for most people to stomach.

Comments

  1. says

    There is a VR Everest game for HTC Vive on the Steam store. I got it when I first was playing with the Vive and getting a feel for what the high end VR systems are capable of at this time. There are moments in there, even though it’s computer-rendered and textured, where you gasp in shock at the severity and beauty of the landscape. My friend, who was ‘outside’ in the living room at the time, says I kept shouting “What the Fuck!?” a lot. It’s someplace that nobody should want to go – although the view is amazing.

    In VR goggles with head-tracking and 360 view, it’s quickly disorienting because of the sense of scale. I have some fun pictures of my friend lying on her stomach on the living room carpet peering over the edge of a crevasse (i.e.: looking at the floor) in the ice; the illusion is that good. Our brains get all kinds of weird artifacts when our eyes are telling us something completely different from our bodies – if your eyes think you are on an icefall on everest and someone suddenly hugs you from behind, there’s a palpable sense of shock.

    Flying to Singapore in 1998, most of us where asleep when the pilot got on the intercom and said, “I normally wouldn’t wake you up, except I think you’re going to want to see this. If you look out the left side of the plane, you’ll get one of the best views of Mt Everest I’ve ever seen.” So people popped the curtains and I was seriously worried that the plane was going to tilt, because everyone rushed, gasping, to the left hand side of the plane. I was fortunate because I had a window seat right there, not over the wing (I got up and went to the restroom so kids could look) – there, floating just off the wingtip, was this absolutely humongous rock, with plumes of snow blowing off it like flags. The sun was setting and we were 30,000 feet up (twice the height of the mountain) but it looked like you could reach out and touch it. Everything was so vivid and sharp it looked like it was etched on glass with a razor blade. This was back in my day before I had switched from film to digital, and I had my hasselblad up in my camera bag in the overhead, but I didn’t even try to get it down. For one thing, I was only packing black and white spy satellite film, and for another, it’s simply too big: to do something like that justice, you’d want a 30 foot wide, 40 foot tall digital print made from a scan off an 8×10 sheet of Fujicolor, or something. I felt that, somehow, the mountain exceeds everything even superlatives. Certainly, our ability to capture it.

    If you know anyone who has a Vive, the Everest game is worth it just for the view.

    PS – Remember: Messner did that solo without supplemental oxygen.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    I worry that weekend hikers may think, “Hey, I could do that!”

    Let me put your mind at rest on that score if nothing else. I’ve been up (and flown off the top of) some big hills, and some of my loopier friends have been up some really big hills the difficult way. The average weekend hiker wouldn’t have the skills, equipment, time or money to make it to base camp, much less be able to consider making an attempt on the summit. Furthermore, any weekend hiker deluded enough to think they could would not get very far. You can’t go alone…

  3. raym says

    This reminded me of one of the very first films I ever saw, as a young boy in the early 1950s: The Conquest Of Everest. Thank you for posting this, since it prompted me to look for (and, of course, find and watch again) that movie which is now on YouTube, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7oHpdYSAv4

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