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Climb El Capitan From Your Browser With Google’s New Vertical Street View

Climbing is easy when there’s no risk of death!

Look away from the screen and find an outside wall. Maybe something built with bricks or stone. Now imagine climbing up that sheer face using no specialized gear other than your hands and feet.

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Impossible, right? Yet that’s how Lynn Hill made the on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley back in the 1990s. Now, thanks to Google’s Street View, we can go along with her, ascending 3,000 feet up a sheer rock wall without leaving our browsers.

The vertical Street View is dizzying. Just like with a real climb, you really shouldn’t look down. Google used the same cameras it deploys to capture the insides of coffee shops and other buildings, only with the tripod tied to the side of a mountain. Climbing The Nose apparently takes most people 3 to 5 days. That’s 3 to 5 days hanging off a wall.


But climber Alex Honnold isn’t a normal human. He can race up The Nose in under two and a half hours. He carried a panoramic camera up the entire 3,000-foot route, recording it so that anyone can click their way from top to bottom inside Google Maps.

Maybe the best part of the project is the Yosemite Treks page, which shows behind-the-scenes photos as well as lots of information about climbing. You can also click to highlights on the climb, like the amazing Texas Flake, a huge Texas-shaped shard of granite that peels away from the mountain’s wall and hangs there looking scary.


El Capitan isn’t the only place you can explore in Google’s Treks site. You can skip across the Khumbu in Nepal, avoid the queues at the Eiffel Tower or even hang out at Everest Base Camp, which looks like a high-tech shanty town.

These Treks take Google’s traditional strength–deploying tech to gather information–and combine it with human curation, photos, commentary and facts. If you’re the kind of person who can lose hours just flipping through an atlas, then your should check out Treks right now.

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About the author

Previously found writing at Wired.com, Cult of Mac and Straight No filter.

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