Technology is the exact opposite of nature, and yet it can bring us closer to parts of nature we might not have experienced otherwise—Mount Everest, for instance. A new interactive online experience allows users to virtually hike up to the the summit, and realize why it might be best not to do so out in the world, wearing more than pajamas.
At 30,000 feet, Everest is the world's highest mountain. It's also one of the deadliest. Over 200 people have died trying to climb it over the years, either from avalanches, falling off, exposure, or other unknown causes in instances where the bodies weren't ever found. On April 18, the mountain had its single deadliest day ever when a powerful avalanche killed 16 Sherpas. The edutainment network Discovery happened to be at a lower level preparing to film a separate live event when it happened. Perhaps this proximity to the disaster is why the channel has recently unveiled a dedicated website that explores what happened, and the brutal beauty of Everest in general.
The centerpiece of the website is Mount Everest in 3-D, which offers a terrifyingly realistic simulation of what it would be like to embark upon this most perilous climb. Created with the help of the Sherpa Fund, the sim lets you go by the same route taken by the Sherpas, who have physically adapted to withstand the altitude and temperature of the Himalayas. The whistling of the wind somehow sounds cold, and of course, very fast, as the unforgiving ridges of snow and ice you pass practically guarantee goosebumps.
Along the way to the summit, aka The Hillary step, you can listen to the macabre radio recordings taken on the day of the avalanche. There's also relevant information about different points of the journey, such as The Khumbu Icefall. (What's that? Could it be as cool as it sounds? Yes. Yes, it is.) When you finally do get to the top, there's a panoramic display of what's considered one of the most incredible views in the world. In the distance, you can see China on one side, and Nepal on another. And then you can go back to being psyched that you are actually in a warm room, looking at a computer, eating a leftover half of a Chipotle burrito bowl.
h/t to It's Nice That