The April 18 avalanche on Mount Everest that killed 16 Sherpas training for an ascent has been declared the deadliest mountaineering accident ever recorded on the peak. Now Discovery has created an immersive web experience to help illustrate what happened.
The Everest Avalanche Tragedy site includes video of the rescue, a diary of the accident which pulls photos and reports from the social media accounts of those on the mountain, and audio recordings of calls placed to emergency responders. But the most compelling element uses an interactive animation to show the route of the 16 Sherpas reportedly killed on the mountain (three bodies have not been recovered) and allow users to “summit” the peak by following a popular approach to the top.
While we’ve seen some nice animations of various climbing routes using Google Earth, Discovery’s has the best imagery as well as specific, geolocated details about the tragedy, which happened due to an avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall.
After climbing past the area where the tragedy occurred, the route travels several thousand feet higher, rewarding with a panoramic view from the top that’s just incredible.
Especially after this most recent, deadliest incident, the call for people to stop climbing Everest — or to drastically limit the numbers of climbers — has been renewed. While I don’t think this site in particular will be a replacement for hardcore climbers who want to actually summit the peak, there’s something to be said for eventually developing a VR experience that would someday be robust enough to replace the climb — complete with oxygen depletion and maybe even some mild frostbite. At the very least, it might take some of the less experienced climbers off the mountain, potentially saving their lives as well as the lives of the Sherpas paid to accompany them. [Everest Journal]