Even as yet another eponymous movie) opens in theaters, Nepalese officials are making access to Mount Everest harder than ever to attain. If you’re wondering why, look no further than this 3.2 billion pixel interactive tour of Mount Everest by photographer David Breashears of GlacierWorks. Not only is it the next best thing to climbing Everest yourself, it puts in perspective how massive and deadly the Himalayan mega-mountain really is.
Cobbled together from over 400 individual photos, Mount Everest doesn’t look like such a big deal when you first load the Franken-image . In fact, focuses on a small icy footpath leading between two crystalline hillocks, leading up to a more massive mountain in the horizon. A few green squares represent clickable hot spots, but they stop far below the summit.
It’s only when you click on one of these hotspots that the true scale of Everest becomes clear. At the bottom of the footpath, I clicked on a hotspot, expecting to zoom in on maybe some trash that a hiker had left behind, until the image fully resolved itself. What I thought was just a piece of trash at the beginning of the trail turned out to be Everest’s massive base camp, filled with tents, vehicles, and more.
And that’s just the beginning of the ascent. Next, you have to climb the Khumbu Icefall, a perilous section of the route to the summit marked by its unstable boulders of ice and deadly crevices, some of which contain corpses. (You can discover these caves for yourself.) And once you’ve gotten over that, you’re still only half way to the top.
First created in 2012, Breashears’ interactive panorama is a little clunky since it was coded with Flash instead of HTML5. And if you want to learn about Mount Everest, there are other interactives out there that perhaps do a more educational job. But as far as giving you a sense of the terrifying scale of the world’s tallest mountain, without climbing it yourself? This is still the interactive to beat.