Mount Everest can now be seen like never before. Famed climber and filmmaker David Breashears has stitched together approximately 3.8 billion pixels to create an interactive photo called a "gigapan" that allows viewers to virtually tour the world's highest peak."The context of the photo is really important," Breashears told Rock and Ice. "We are looking at climate change throughout the greater Himalayan region."
The photo is part of a larger project that Breashears, along with his company GlacierWorks, launched to document the receding ice of the Himalaya. The completed project will include the interactivity of what Breashears refers to as his "teaser" version that is available now (see below), but the finished work will also incorporate match photography, which gives viewers the ability to compare older photos taken of the glaciers to newer ones.
"We started out with match photography," says Breashears, "but then we wanted to build interactivity because the more people interact with the landscape, the more they care about it."
To create the photo, Breashears stood exactly where the famed Swiss mountaineer Norman Dyhrenfurth stood in 1952 to snap his ubiquitous photo of the Khumbu glacier. The vantage point, which is from Pumori camp 1, is easily accessible according to Breashears, and allows viewers to see not only the glacier but also the Lhotse face.
"You can see up into the accumulation zone at the base of the Lhotse face," says Breashears, "but you can also see the Lhotse face well enough to see how the ice is thinning up there."
The completed photo consists of 447 21-pixel images laced together. But Breashears insists that this photo is only a "beta version" that was never meant for public view. The completed project, which is sponsored by Mountain Hardware, will launch in June of 2013 and will aim to tell the entire story of one of the highest glaciers in the world.
"When we're done with it, it will have over 100 to 150 times more capacity," says Breashears. "It's an understatement to say that the best is yet to come."
Click the photo below to access the interactive image via GlacierWorks.