How to Summit Mount Everest From Your Couch

May 3, 2017

5:50 pm

While I fully appreciate the challenges and threats of avalanches, blizzards, and a lack of oxygen, I’ve only seen them from behind a computer screen. I’m not about to summit Mount Everest myself, but a new format has emerged that will let me see the sights from every angle — all 360 degrees of them.

Sports Illustrated is getting into the VR game with a new film documenting the ascent of Mount Everest. It’s a stunning adventure that marks a new genre for VR film: The roller-coaster-like ride of taking a trip to a remote location of the world without leaving the comfort — and safety — of your own home.

Why Make It VR? Because It’s There.

While other VR films have depicted the climb — one offers a “God-mode” view of the Himalayas after your journey is complete — this is the first to capture the event in live-action as it happened.

Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated and LIFE VR, in partnership with Endemol Shine Beyond USA, premiere Capturing Everest, the first-ever complete ascent of the world’s tallest mountain in virtual reality. The film covers a 2016 climb by Brent Bishop, Lisa Thompson, and Jeff Glasbrenner. Glasbrenner is an amputee, and Thompson a cancer survivor, lending the project pathos beyond simply beautiful 360-degree shots of the snowy peak. The footage was first available as a four-episode series on the LIFE VR app, and was shot mostly by the climbers themselves.

This trip in particular was a great fit for a VR experience, since it’s a visceral adventure that many want to experience, but few actually do, and even fewer live to tell about. This film is a particularly “honest” take, as Mia Tramz, the managing editor of LIFE VR, told Fast Company:

“Virtual reality, Tramz argued, is about putting viewers in the middle of an experience and helping them “feel that moment and how rough it actually is. If it had [felt] polished and produced, it would have felt inauthentic. I’m very proud of how honest the summit [experience the film offers] is.”

Watch NASA launch a rocket into space in 360 degree video

Watch the Film Now

You can witness the epic climb via Viveport and Steam for the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Samsung Gear VR through the LIFE VR App. From the countless tiny yellow campsites to the stomach-churning suspension bridges to the foggy white mountainside itself you’ll feel as though you are claiming right along with everyone.

And you can follow the tale in print by checking out SI’s cover story on Jeff Glasbrenner: He lost his leg in 1980, and has since become a wheelchair basketball world champion and an Ironman in addition to successfully topping Mount Everest. Now, thanks to the power of VR, you can see through his eyes as he does so.

Read more about virtual reality at Tech.Co

Image: Wikimedia

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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