Am I ever going to visit the base camp at Mount Everest or climb Mount Kilimanjaro? Probably not. But I can take a virtual tour of them plus two more of the world's great mountains, thanks to some nifty engineering by Google, and more importantly, some seriously intrepid work by a team of Google photographers.
Courtesy of Google Maps you can now explore some of the most famous mountains on Earth, including Aconcagua (South America), Kilimanjaro (Africa), Mount Elbrus (Europe) and Everest Base Camp (Asia) on Google Maps. These mountains belong to the group of peaks known as the Seven Summits—the highest mountain on each of the seven continents.
Dan Fredinburg, a manager at Google, led expedition teams up four of the Seven Summits, the world's tallest peaks, over the course of 18 months and captured stunning 360-degree Street View images.
The digital trek works on your PC via a browser or on an iOS or Android device. It's extremely cool, because you're not just looking at still photos. If you're familiar with Google Street View you'll feel right at home on Mount Everest. Simply zoom and navigate around the way you would if you were checking out the entrance to a mall near your home.
Above is a peak at the Mount Everest Base Camp. This is just a screen grab, but if you view it in Google maps you can wonder around and actually peer inside one of the tents.
This imagery was collected with a simple lightweight tripod and digital camera with a fisheye lens—equipment typically used for Google’s Business Photos program. You can read more about what it was like to photograph Mount Everest by taking a look at Google's Lat Long Blog. Lat Long? Short for latitude and longitude, of course.
Here's a look at Russia’s Mount Elbrus (on left), Europe's tallest peak; notice the huts made from Soviet-era fuel barrels. Climbers have to take refuge in the huts built on the mountain when the weather turns wretched.
No doubt you've heard the proverbial answer to the question of why climb a mountain? "Because it's there." Why check out mountain tops on Google Maps? Because it's cool.