Explore Everest without taking a step: Google adds Khumbu’s mountains and …

13 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chomolungma conquered! Google launches virtual tour of Nepal Everest region (VIDEO).

Google has launched a virtual tour of Nepal’s Everest region, allowing armchair tourists a rare glimpse of life in one of the toughest and most inaccessible places on Earth.Mount Everest towers over Nepal and although many people dream of scaling its summit, there are beautifully remote villages, farms and monasteries nestled within its huge shadow that are also worth a visit. The Street View project takes viewers into the heart of the Sagarmatha national park, home to the world’s highest mountain, where icy blue rivers run below snow-capped peaks, monks play traditional music and yak-herders navigate precipitous stone-strewn trails. Last year Google took its Street View cameras on a 10-day trek around the Khumbu region – also known as the Everest region – to explore these quaint landmarks and locations.

While Google doesn’t go to the peak, viewers can explore monasteries, schools, a “yak parking lot” and local landmarks and even meet members of the communities around the base of the mountain. Armed with two single-lens tripod cameras and a 15-lens custom-built “Trekker” unit designed for backpacks, teams travelled on foot to capture more than 45,000 panoramic images of the remote villages inhabited by the ethnic Sherpa community in the eastern Himalayas. In the blog post, Ava Sherpa talks about bring Google Maps to his native Khumbu region: “My hope is that when people see this imagery online, they’ll have a deeper understanding of the region and the Sherpa people that live there.”

Google worked on the project with Kathmandu-based start-up Story Cycle and Nepalese mountaineer Apa Sherpa, who scaled Mount Everest a record 21 times before he retired from climbing and set up an educational charity. “Everyone in the world knows Mount Everest but very few people know how hard life is in these villages,” said Apa Sherpa, who was forced to drop out of school at 12 and work as a porter after his father died. “Thanks to Google Street View, everyone can see these villages and understand that people here need help. The trek was led by Apa Sherpa, a 55-year-old Sherpa mountaineer who holds the world record for reaching the summit of Mount Everest 21 times – more than any other person. Sherpa wrote “last year, I guided the Google Maps team through my home region to collect Street View imagery that improves the map of our community.” Last year, The Wall Street Journal visited Khumjung and nearby villages in the aftermath of an avalanche on Everest that killed 16 climbers—the deadliest calamity in the mountain’s history.

Hopefully we can then raise funds to build more schools and hospitals for them.” In his first climbing expedition to the 8,848-meter-high peak, Apa Sherpa was a porter, which is quite typical for Nepal’s Sherpa community, who have long served as guides and porters on risky mountaineering expeditions. Google held a digital mapping session in the Himalayan town of Namche, where around 50 locals chipped in with suggestions of places to add to the online map. “These online maps are a good source of information for visitors and if more tourists come here, it will create more opportunities, better opportunities than working on the mountain,” he told Agence France-Presse. “My dream is that one day, young kids in Nepal won’t have to risk working on the mountain as porters or guides, they will be able to get an education and build better lives for themselves,” Sherpa told AFP. Paintings inside the monastery began in 2008 by Buddhist artists and were completed by the end of 2009 using funding from the Greater Himalayas Foundation. ‘Partnering with Google Maps allowed us to get important local landmarks on the map and share a richer view of Khumbu with the world, including local monasteries, lodges, schools and more, with some yaks along the way!,’ continued Apa. ‘Your online trip to my home awaits you on Google Maps.

We’ll be ready to welcome you.’ Everest is one of 14 mountain peaks on Earth that stand taller than 26,000ft (8,000m) and the local Nepalese name for it is Sagarmatha, which means ‘mother of the universe.’ Glaciers have chiselled Mount Everest’s summit into a huge, triangular pyramid, defined by three faces and three ridges that extend to the northeast, southeast, and northwest. The satellite image was taken in December, just weeks after Nasa captured the rivers of black lava snaking over the snow-covered slopes of the stratovolcano Mount Etna in Sicily. In 2012, mountaineer and filmmaker David Breashears took 477 individual images to create gigapixel image of the Khumbu glacier from the Pumori viewpoint near Mount Everest.

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