The top of the world at your finger tips

Mt Rainier on May 4th, culminating point in mainland USA

Alpine inspiration.

I am not sure why this year, more than any previous years, my alpine origins have crawled back in the front of my aspirations with a constant call back to the mountains.

This has led me to ski for over 28 days this season, including an awesome new experience: shredding snow on May 4th before enjoying an ice cream the same day both feet in the ocean (more charms to the already reported Seattle backcountry). But as expected, this nostalgia has also materialised in a flurry of blog posts gravitating around the alpine theme, whether that was paragliding over an avalanche, photographing the Mt Blanc in high resolution, or poetry whilst walking on a rope tied between two peaks...

Toping my world

So to continue on that path, and mark like many others the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Everest conquest by the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, a Nepali sherpa climber from India, I would like to share a brilliant digital experience that uses the Himalaya as a background for some impressive innovations.

To help emphasize the beauty of the region and put into perspective the ascent to the summit, the filmmaker and explorer David Breashears has teamed up with Microsoft to build an interactive examination of the mountain and the Greater Himalaya region.

Everest: Rivers of Ice is a new Web site open to the public on Tuesday night built in HTML5 and CSS3 for touch screens. Created by the Internet Explorer 10 team, Microsoft Research, and PixelLabs, a small HTML5 creative shop, it takes you on an immersive, gigapixel-rich adventure from landing at Lukla's Hillary Tenzing Airport to panoramic, sweeping views far above Everest Base Camp:

A click to the peak

Although it was built for touch, and optimised for IE10, you can still enjoy it with a mouse and other web browsers. And here are some examples of what can be done in that digital mountain chain... As you zoom in Namche Bazar reveals a video of the market. Zoom in on Everest Base Camp and a 4 billion pixel photo materialises in front of you, in full screen mode. You can also see how this giant is vulnerable: a slider enables you to compare the Khumbu Glacier between 1952, a year before Hillary's successful ascent, and 2007. In sixty years, the glacier has significantly shrunk back...

Breashears has contributed with numerous high-resolution photos and videos to both educate and advocate. It may not be explicitly stated, but there's a clear demonstration throughout the site of how climate change has impacted the glaciers in recent years. And you can thus donate to GlacierWorks, Breashears' non-profit that works to raise awareness of how the shrinking glaciers adversely affects the water supply for much of Asia.

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