A Daring Plan to Capture Everest | Street View Stories

The Google Street View Project to capture the tallest mountain on the planet.

Photo courtesy of www.Google.com

In 2015, the Google Street View team took on the daunting task of capturing the infamous Mount Everest. To date this is one of the most impressive Google Street View projects on record.

In 2015, Street View was celebrating its 9th year of production with massive global implementation underway. Built mainly for pavement capture, the Street View program allowed Google to open up the world to everyday web users in a way that wasn’t possible before its creation. But, as the curious humans we naturally are, the Google team wanted to test their product in a way that has never been done before. To give everyone the ability to see one of the greatest natural wonders this world has to offer. Everest.

After a well thought out plan was created, the Google team set out to Nepal for a two month capture journey that would amount to a total of 45,000 panoramic images being captured. The team included 16 engineers and international development specialists. They were accompanied by a legend in the mountaineering space, Apa Sherpa. 

Photo courtesy of www.apasherpa.com

Lhakpa Tenzing (known as Apa Sherpa), also nicknamed the Super Sherpa, is a Nepalese local who successfully summited Mount Everest a grand total of 21 times. A world record that was held up until 2018. He goes by Apa Sherpa (Apa which means “much loved”) as his mother changed his name when he miraculously survived an avalanche at just 3 months of age. His life journey and experience made him the perfect candidate to escort the Google Team up to Everest Base Camp.

The Google Team, accompanied by Apa Sherpa, hiked all through Nepal’s Khumbu region to create a beautiful stunning interactive tour that not only highlighted the route to Everest Base Camp but also highlighted the beautiful historic sites in the region. A capture that allowed us all to experience the beauty of such a region from the comfort of our own environments. 

“We consider this project to be part of our program’s commitment to giving knowledge and resources to these non-profit organizations like Story Cycle and Apa Sherpa Foundation… They can use this imagery and they can use the maps in order to visualize their cause and tell their story and share these places with the world through Google Maps.” (Raleigh Seamster, Project Manager in an interview with Outside Online.)

Eli Duke/Flickr CC

This feat was accomplished using a Street View Trekker. One of the first innovations to moving Google Street View off the pavement. The Street View Trekker was a frame pack setup that was constructed to hold an omnidirectional camera whilst providing GPS capabilities. This was a 40 pound setup that would be worn and hiked along the trail up to base camp. An endurance project of amazing feat.

View these amazing Google Street View images captured along the way:

Whilst the project was a success. Mount Everest would shortly after showcase it’s catastrophic nature just after the Google team was gone. The Avalanche of April 18th, 2015 was a realization of the dangers of mountaineering, with 16 high altitude workers passing away from the tragic event.

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