Only a handful of people have ever climbed Mount Everest and lived to tell the tale. Now, thanks to Google Maps, you can be one of these successful climbers — or at least pretend.
Google announced on its official blog on Monday that it was starting to release "Street View"-like photos of the "Seven Summits" (the tallest mountain on each continent), including Everest, Tanzania's Kilimanjaro, and Argentina's Aconcagua, accessible on its Maps application.
"With Google Maps, you can instantly transport yourself to the top of these peaks and enjoy the sights without all the avalanches, rock slides, crevasses, and dangers from altitude and weather that mountaineers face," said Dan Fredinburg, one of Google's adventurers.
While the Street View function has been around for years already, allowing users to "stand" on almost any street in the world, this addition caters to those who seek a little more virtual adventure.
These weren't your typical "Googlers" making the ascents, either. In this case, "Googler" is short for "Google adventurer," and consisted of several expeditions up the world's tallest mountains. Googlers took photos with tripod-mounted digital cameras equipped with a fish-eye lens to capture stunning 360-degree views.
"This is a great tool for the many of us who won't make it up there in our lifetimes," blogger Xeni Jardin said. "And for young people whose horizons need expanding."
Sara Pelosi, another member of the expedition team, shared her experience climbing to Everest's Base Camp on Google's Lat Long blog.
"We spent 12 days in the mountains battling altitude sickness, an earthquake, mudslides, snow storms and flash floods," she wrote. "The highest altitude we reached was 18,192 feet — higher than anywhere in the contiguous U.S. —and we hiked more than 70 miles (or 50 hours) during the trip. We carried our camera equipment everywhere we went and captured a collection of panoramas at key camps and other interesting stops along the way."
In addition to blog posts, Google has posted a gallery of its most interesting images from the Googlers' photo shoots all over the world.
Fredinburg continued, "Whether you're scoping out the mountain for your next big adventure or exploring it from the comfort and warmth of your home, we hope you enjoy these views from the top of the world."