It was 1984. I was ten years old, and I was smitten.
It wasn't in the romantic way, but the innocent way of a young boy getting the first whiff of something that would come to define his life, his dreams, his realities, and his passion in life.
The catalyst that evening was a barrel-chested bear of a man named Lou Whittaker, twin brother of Jim Whittaker - the first American to summit Everest. Lou was no slouch, and had just returned from leading the first American ascent of the north side of Everest, putting Phil Ershler on the summit via a new route variation connecting the North Col to the Great Couloir and on to the summit.
Lou gave a slideshow that night, and thanks to my father's work with New Balance and his friendship with Lou, we got to hang out afterward, hear more stories, and set the hook of my Himalayan fascination. Little did I know then that that evening would lead to decades of tramping around the Himalaya, on big expeditions and small treks, trade routes and off the beaten track explorations...A lifetime of love for a mountain, a range, a place and a history rich and vibrant as any in the world.
For me, Mount Everest is far more than the little patch of snow on top. If I'm being honest (which I try to be, most of the time), I could do without the tippy-top. (Spoiler alert: it's a urine-soaked patch of snow with some old candy wrappers, prayer flags, and a five-star view, but not at all worth dying for.) It's the history, the fabric of the past and place that weaves together the stunning carpet of the present, tendrils of culture and exploration and horror and passion and compassion, perverse ugliness and sublime beauty, heroism and reverence and humility and ego, all mixed together in a tangled web of nuance, a hyper-dramatic microcosm of the world we live in, humanity's idiosyncrasies played out on a stage of ice, rock, and wind.
Anyway, you probably get it: I find Mount Everest to be a place of wonder - despite its myriad warts and awful aspects, or perhaps because of them. But, as one who loves as much to learn and explore as to share and teach, I've struggled for years with how to encapsulate the place, translate the ephemeral mystique of the mountain - its history and legacy, its unearned-but-deserved place on the world stage, and the nuance that makes it worthy of its pedestal.
This quest morphed over the past several months into the project below: a virtual tour not of Mount Everest the mountain, but the place, replete with its accompanying, oft-missed, sorely overlooked aspects, the parts and pieces which may seem dissonant on their own, but taken together pull the fabric together as one.
The result? Forty-seven panoramic images (8+ total gigapixels), 811 info popups, covering all sides, aspects, and elevations on the mountain, with an attempt to bring in, draw out, expand and expound upon the history of the place, the peak, the landscape, the history and people and more.
Love it or hate it, know it well or not at all, I hope you'll take some time to enjoy the Virtual Mount Everest Tour below; I know I certainly enjoyed creating it. Why, you might ask? Well, I guess just because it's there.
This is sensational work ( and obviously lots of it).........really well done. And thank you so much for sharing.
Thanks, Mike, and glad you enjoyed the Tour! I definitely had a lot of fun creating it!
Thanks again, and best regards,
Just a quick note to all: You will see that the Virtual Mount Everest Tour will hit a lock screen at a certain altitude (currently Camp 1). This will change in time, just like an Everest expedition: As climbers ascend this spring on the Southeast Ridge (the Tibetan side is closed), I will gradually unlock incrementally higher altitudes for everyone, eventually giving full access to all.
In the meantime, viewers have several options:
1. If you're a subscriber/supporter already, access your Virtual Backpack to get the unlock code and proceed.
2. You can subscribe/support my work and get immediate access to the code and all the other perks of membership.
3. If you just want the Virtual Mount Everest Tour, then there is an option as well to purchase just the unlock code for the Tour.
4. If you're happy waiting, no problem either. Just click the "Go Back" button at the bottom of the lock keypad to go back to the previous panorama/view.
Below is a screenshot explaining it all, and let me know if it makes sense!
Hey Jake Tweedle here. Just sitting in my living room watching the various scenes & listening to the sound of the winds. What a rush my man & thanks for sharing!
Tweedle, you are the best - thank you, and glad you are enjoying it! Stay safe, healthy, and well, my man, and I hope we can get together again, in person, and soon. Sending you lots of love!
All my best, and a big, virtual hug,
What a brilliant way to share the knowledge you have gathered all these years and creating such a realistic tour for the people who might not be able to experience this magnificent journey in their lifetime. Truly breathtaking. Thank you for putting all this effort. And all the best for your future adventures!
Thank you, Priya - I'm very happy people appreciate the Virtual Mount Everest, and are getting something positive out of it. Be well, stay safe, and stay tuned for more to come in future!
Stunning work. Lost myself in it for a while, and will be back! Thanks Jake!
Thanks, Steve - so glad you enjoyed it! Let me know if you have ideas for additions, corrections, etc!
just showed my son the pics of Everest from the south camp. he was totally blown away. scared he hell out of my wife too.
Glad your son liked it, and tell your wife sorry! Thanks, Alex!
Enjoying the sound design!
Thanks, Arte - wish I had more sounds to add, but glad you liked what I put in!
you really did an unbelievable detailed huge work.
For the first time ever one can climb mount everest directly from a PC.
Hi Antonio, Thanks for your note, and glad you enjoyed the Virtual Mount Everest! Hoping to get back to it again soon, add more detail, etc. Thanks again, and let me know if you have specific questions or want more items and info added!
What you have created here is wonderful! Thank you!!!
Thank you, Andrew!
Dear Mr Norton, with reference to your panorama "Northeast Ridge from North Col", and to the pin for "oxygen bottle #9": do you have GPS co-ordinates (latitude, longitude and elevation) for that pin? Thank you.
Hi Robert, thanks for your note, and great to be in touch! I honestly don't have precise GPS for where #9 was found. I know that has led some to believe this is evidence of some grand conspiracy. Alas, nothing that juicy, but just:
Hope this helps, but likely doesn't!
Tremendous site. I have always been fascinated about Mallory and Irvine's last hours and solving the mystery. I have really enjoyed the pictures and gaining some more insight into what Everest looks like close up. Thanks for all the hard work to make this possible.
Thank you, Peter, and glad you've enjoyed the site and the contents! Working to create more, so stay tuned!
This is amazing! I love that you can see pretty much all the mountains around Everest! Though it gets confusing when you're trying to find a specific place. I still love it!
Glad you enjoyed it! Yes, it can get a bit tricky when zooming in and moving about, but hopefully not overwhelmingly so!