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Two Billion Pixel Photo of Mount Everest (can you find the climbers?) (amazonaws.com)
549 points by matthodan on Dec 19, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 165 comments

Looks like there's a few on the icefall. Follow the line of garbage, then up and across the fall. The only hard part is dealing with the inverted mouse movement on the interface. Why would they do that???

For those looking:

1. Of the 3 mountains, look at the peak of the center one (Lhotse).

2. Below that, the right half is big chunky snow, and the left half is smooth, icey looking snow.

3. Look at the line where the smooth left half meets the chunky right half. - Halfway up that you can find CAMP 3. [You'll see little ant people marching up that centerline - follow them to their tents.]

Also once you see CAMP 3, you actually see tracks in the snow. There's a manmade line going diagonally up/left across the center mountain, up the rock face, and then continues up/left to the little snow valley where Everest hits Lhotse along the horizon line. I suppose somewhere around there is CAMP 4.

For anyone who is still looking: http://f.cl.ly/items/3w2j2h0a1a3h0M1K0i3l/ppl.jpg

(you can only see the people at max zoom-level, they are really tiny)

I've found this lonely guy http://cl.ly/image/221I0N1x1c1Y

I don't know but I think that might be two people. That, or he's hugging a small bear. https://www.evernote.com/shard/s3/sh/1d7328b2-960d-4728-b9af...

I saw it as him looking back at another guy by the pole. Dressed in a very camouflaging outfit.



I found a really lonely guy.. http://i.imgur.com/7ohkL.png

Good catch.

It is probably Kala Pathar (the most accessible point to view Mt. Everest from base camp to peak, according to Wikipedia [0]) since the photo was taken from Pumori.

[0] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kala_Patthar

Good find!

You can also see a small tent city at the base of the on the grey part net to the ice flow at the bottom left of the. And some buildings on the right side of the image. But oddly no real roads, so I guess it's all air lifted in, or mule trains.

Nearest road to Kathmandu was (for me, in 2001) a 14-day walk. The airport at Lukla is about 7 days. Everything comes in by porter or by yak train. It's nearly 18,000 feet altitude. The mountain goes straight up another 2 miles vertical. This panorama is fantastic, but realize it's on extreme wide angle, almost fish-eye. The mountain seems to take up the whole sky.

Thanks for this explanation, I wouldn't have seen that part otherwise. At first I wasn't sure which peak you meant exactly, but once I picked the right one I found it.

None of those little ant people are really climbing though.

Also, the resolution should have been much more than a gigapixel to make that part more interesting :)

I immediately saw the HUGE tent camp in the front though.

You're probably right about those little ant people.

Climbing Mount Everest is more dangerous than attempting suicide!

Not quite but closer than I would have suspected:

   Suicide attempt fatality rate: 9%
   Everest attempt fatality rate: 2%

    Climber fatality from attempts through 2006:

    Suicide estimate from NIH:         

Actually, Everest is considered as on the easier side for an eight-thousander [1]. Annapurna got %38 (2007 figures) [2] and K2 got %25 [3].

For some interesting discussion on Everest fatalities, try this one [4]. "No shortcuts to the top" by Ed Viesturs and the well known "Into thin air" by Jon Krakauer are two good books on the subject, if you want to read more.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight-thousander [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annapurna [3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K2 {4] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1978295

Yup, I've read that. The account by the reporter from Outdoors (?) was extremely graphic in detail (but disputed by others in the party). Sad all around, but through those deaths came better regulation which has led to a 1:7 ration of attempts/deaths vs. 1:4 in previous years.

Some more stats I put together awhile ago:


This is very good visualization. It brings out the fact that number of summits have exponentially increased by number of death only linearly and with very slight slop. This means w have gotten exponentially better at summiting over time.

I am sure that I read an article a while ago that claimed that climbing Everest was more dangerous.

I guess I'm wrong. Thanks for the correction.

And I suspect that suicide fatality rate isn't 100% correct either. It's hard to really tell, if someone really failed trying to commit suicide, or if they just 'attempted' to get more attention.

I couldn't find it because I couldn't comprehend the sheer size. I came to the the realization that HUMANS ARE TINY, no really, we're insignificant.

Thanks for the pointers, never would have found them.

The best way for you, as a mere mortal, and not some semi-suicidal mountaineer to experience big mountains is to take the bus from Santiago,Chile to Mendoza, Argentina. The trip through the Andes is really awesome. Sometimes you'll see a mountain and have no idea how big it is and then at the very bottom you can just barely make out some ant size cows grazing. Looking down at the bottom of some of the switchbacks on that route is like looking out an airplane window.

You seemed to know that I'm from south america, creepy ;) (I'm from Uruguay). I'm going to be living in Austria for the next 6 months so I will have no shortage of mountains there!

I'm a brazilian and have never been in Chile or Argentina. Its time.

(We do travel 4 hours by car to Uruguay to buy wine/champagne liquor for a fraction of the prices here though.)

Got it. The mountain in the background is the one you are talking about

There's also a big camp right at the bottom of the picture on the soil next to the glacier. There are at least two dozen tents there.

Closer to 50 dozen, there are tents all around the bottom of the picture where the glacier thins out. I never realized how many people are actually climbing that mountain in any given season.

How did anyone ever figure out how to climb that thing before there were satellites or planes? I don't even see how they are getting from the base camp up past the broken up glacier area.

There are really an absurd number of people "climbing" it - literally, my sexagenarian neighbour told me that "some of the girls from my tennis club are doing it". It really nullifies the whole mystique of Everest of any meaning whatsoever, and is having a terrible effect on the natural beauty of the terrain.

(I'm not some mountaineering snob - I tire climbing hills for a decent toboggan run)

Let's not get too carried away. At the end of the 2010 climbing season, only 3142 people had ever reached the summit.

A lot of people go to Base Camp as tourists, but the numbers drop dramatically at each higher camp. There's probably a case to be made that Base Camp should be toned down.

There aren't that many people truly climbing the mountain.

What is the point of 'natural beauty' if there's no-one to appreciate it? There's all sorts of reasons to preserve wilderness, but 'keeping it looking pretty' as a reason to prevent travellers is not one of them.

Not sure if you fully realize the scope with which it's turning into a sort of Disneyland - people are climbing it in an endless convoy. I find it quite shocking. If you do, then I guess we just fundamentally disagree.

(from 2010)

3,142 people have climbed Everest, with 219 dying trying.

It isnt disneyland, and I am not shocked at how much Everest has turned into disneyland, we definitely fundamentally disagree.

This is a dead thread, more or less, but I'm a bit embarrassed about this. For posterity:

The footage I've seen was indeed from (and up to) the basecamp. I was quite shocked at what I saw, but I obviously misremembered exactly what it was - the trail to the basecamp. I certainly did not think all those people were reaching the summit, but I did think they were going higher.

I feel like a bit of an idiot, and needed to get that off my chest.

Edmund Hillary wrote "High Adventure" about a year after his climb, and a it's a great description of just how things were done in those days! It's a very easy read too, in a boys-own-adventure style.

Speaking of aerial photos though, Over The Himalaya (http://www.amazon.com/Over-Himalaya-Koichiro-Ohmori/dp/09385...) has some staggering photos from the region if you like that sort of thing. Out of print, but worth tracking down.


They walk up that thing, its called Khumbu icefall. Basically the valley glacier spilling out in slow motion. Its incredibly dangerous (as you probably surmise), even though its at the bottom. Since the ice is all cracked up, many people fall into the cracks. Believe the local sherpas do most of the work each year to find a safe route through that mess.

I can see the guys up there with a few tents, and a lot of tents below the rough patch of ice. But I can't see anyone in between or above the few tents between the peaks.

Does anyone know why? Is this photo taken early in the day so there there's no-one going for the summit yet? Or does the route to the summit go somewhere where the camera can't see?

WOW! Definitely stared right at camp 3 for a while unable to find them. They're TINY!


Wow! Roughly 50 odd people like ants visible up to halfway there and many below near the foot of the central peak.

There's a little icon at the bottom to "Change Control Mode." Click it and the inversion reverses.

I came to post that- about the mouse movement.

It's absolutely driving me nuts. Makes no sense.

It might help if you think of it as directing the camera instead of moving the image. When you click and drag left, you're telling the camera to look to the left.

That mouse panning convention has existed for at least 15 years in most web browsers. Click the middle mouse button to activate it in any web browser.

Not true at all -- then the view follows the cursor as I move it. On this site, the view moves towards the cursor when I click. Very different.

I don't understand the difference between "following" and "moving towards".

Not on firefox-17.0.1-1.fc17.x86_64.

I think it's just an artifact of pre-tablet era interaction design (not that this software was actually written all that long ago).

Nowadays it seems perfectly reasonable to imagine clicking and dragging the image around in order to pan -- I'm not confident that particular interaction would have even occurred to a lot of people a few years ago, though.

Drag to pan has been around for decades now. The inverted acceleration-style interface was designed to accomodate a joystick.

I would say: Pre Google Maps era. I find it perfectly intuitive to click and drag most online maps around, but it might have been weird the first time I encountered it.

For example, I still like to scroll down to go down in a web page, and get confused (and frustrated?) when I use the new mac mice which use the touch-screen/map type scrolling. However I'm quite sure that if I was a mac person, I'd get used to it fairly quickly.

Does inverted mean 'move in the direction you want to go'? I thought it was the other way around.

I don't know why it's not noted on the controls, but for me Shift -> zoom in, Cmd -> zoom out and arrow keys to move around.

Thanks! CTRL -> zoom out here on Linux (and presumably Windows)

Actually the controls are "non-inverted", pull down to look down. Inverted is when you pull down to look up. Non-inverted is now very popular. Most first person shooter games that ship today have non-inverted as the default. I generally find people about my age and older (30 somethings) prefer inverted, but younger people vastly prefer non-inverted.

My issue is that I am click dragging to move the view. I feel I should be dragging the image around, not aiming the camera.

I believe I mainly have things like flight simulators with inverted controls. But it kinda makes sense there too, since in a plane you pull back (= down) on the stick to go up.

Could the garbage you are referring to actually be the camps at the base of the mountain?

Yup, I couldn't see anybody higher than the Lhotse Face. Couldn't spot any tents on the South Col. Must be the wrong angle.

You can reverse the mouse controls with the "Change Controlmode" button. I found the defaults tricky to handle as well.

People-finder for the lazy: http://i.imgur.com/IIcJL.jpg

There are actually severa more lower down, perhaps people descending.

There is a option on the controls at the bottom (2nd button from right - 4 arrows, called change control mode) to 'fix' the mouse navigation direction.

Use Shift (zoom in), Ctrl (zoom out) and the arrow keys.

The interface is similar to RTS games, click and hold to move in that direction, not like maps.

anyone counted the portable toilet cabins in the base camp(s) - stopped with 58

how do they get those up and down?

that's not garbage... it's tents.

Those are tents, not a line of garbage.

Since not everyone going up the mountain comes back down the mountain and there aren't clean up crews, tents can become garbage.

There actually was a clean-up expedition in 2000. Lots of oxygen bottles.

Yeah, probably a few more giga-pixels and zoom will reveal the bottle caps and cigarette butts in the snow.

Yeah, first thing I do after climbing a mountain is light up a ciggie.

This photo really makes me appreciate the fractal geometry and self-similarity of natural formations. When looking at part of the image w/o any objects of known size for reference I lost all sense of proportion. Tiny "pebbles" were actually boulders, etc.

Same here, couldn't make sense of the proportions in the foreground, I though the valley was a 1m wide track at first

Same thing here! Fractals geometry is very interesting!

So this is a little off-topic, but I read an article the other week that i haven't been able to shake about the number of people that have died on Everest and whose bodies have never been retrieved (warning, morbid and slightly graphic):


Just a reminder that those little dots are people who are taking a very real risk by attempting to reach the summit. I'm not sure if I'm envious of their drive, or if I think they are absolutely crazy.

There are far deadlier mountains out there than Everest. I think the current death rate is around 5%. Annapurna has killed about 35% of the climbers that attempted.

It has gotten to the point where there are basically proven (about as much as you can for something so dangerous) methods of getting to the top.

"Into Thin Air" is a great book on the journey (the very bad , and the good) to the top.

I always thought about doing Everest if I could ever afford it. You know, one those idle "I'll do that someday thoughts" we all have.

Once I hit the "I could afford this" point I started researching Everest...read Into Thin Air, Dark Summit, No Shortcuts to the Top, etc., watched every documentary I could get my hands on, even talked with one of the climbers featured on the Discovery series that featured Russel Brice's company.

I've concluded that I'm not interested. I'm not interested in standing in line at the Second Step for hours while my body consumes itself and I burn through the scant amount of oxygen I have. I'm not interested in the very real risk that I may arrive back at Camp IV after a summit attempt to find my O2 and supplies stolen. I'm not interested in seeing the corpses, oxygen bottles, tents, and other detritus cluttering up the mountain.

I'm not condemning those who chose to go or those who help them get there, but I'm out: human behavior has made the idea of summiting Everest unappealing.

Mountaineering is a great time, but I agree with you about Everest. If you want to do something fun, challenging, and not quite so dangerous or commercialized check out climbing 14ers. Climbing all the ones in the state is a common past time in Colorado. They all have varying degrees of difficulty and depending the peak and time of year you may have a beautiful day climb completely alone.


The couple years I lived in CO I managed to get a few done and really enjoyed the experience.

My favorite moment while at the top of a 14er in CO: heard a helicopter, looked around for it, then realized it was below us.

I had no idea that stealing supplies was so common! I really only heard on it -- and was shocked -- while listening to this talk (about K2): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zkC9IMQmYA

That's an mazing story. He starts to talk about their supplies being stolen around 45:00 but it's worth it to watch the entire video.

The headline is a bit linkbait-y. A total of about 233 people have died. The Khumbu Icefall at the bottom is one of the most dangerous stretches, since it moves, giant seracs can collapse, etc. Those who died there would probably have been recovered and given a decent burial, or be lost at the bottom of a crevasse. When someone dies and it's not feasible to bring them down, typically at some point someone would bring them off the main trail and give them a decent burial. Others fall into inaccessible locations. Still there are a few bodies that have become landmarks. A longer discussion I saw in response to that widely shared article - http://www.alanarnette.com/blog/2012/12/06/bodies-on-everest...

Here is a Gizmodo article on the photo for those wanting the back story: http://gizmodo.com/5969706/a-stunning-two-billion-pixel-phot...

Wow, I was thinking to myself: "Jeez, look at all that trash those climbers have left on the mountain!"

Then I zoomed in some more, and realized the "trash" was actually tents.

Actually, a TON of trash gets left there. Oxygen tanks especially. Also- if you die there, expect to stay put.

Oxygen bottles are not nearly the problem they used to be due to programs in the late 90s and on where companies paid Sherpas (and other climbers) for bringing empties back off the mountain. There's also been a concerted effort to pick up trash starting ~1990 (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Day_20_International_Peac...)

Yeah, that's why I think my initial response was what it was. I knew that Everest gets trashed by the climbers (I don't actually know it, it's just one of those memes I've picked up on over time), so my initial impression when seeing the small brightly-colored objects in the picture was, of course, that is all that trash I've heard that gets left on the mountain.

Jesus, it's imposing. How small the tents are in comparison to even the ripples of snow at the base of the mountain!

When you follow http://www.alanarnette.com/downloads/everestsouthroutemap.jp... this picture you can see the route. I had a hard time seeing any of the climbers until I knew where to look.

Point C3 is the last place you can actually see humans (& tents), C4 is already more of a guess.

Forbidden link. :(

Go to the main website: http://www.alanarnette.com/ then copy url for image in: http://www.alanarnette.com/downloads/everestsouthroutemap.jp...

Simple hot linking restrictions.

Well now I feel dumb(er). :)

Just refresh the page so the referrer is the same domain.

Very cool, but the inverted acceleration panning is incredibly difficult and frustrating to use. I gave up after a few attempts to zoom and pan.

If you think "I'm moving the camera on this tripod" it suddenly becomes very natural. It worked for me anyway.

I have apple to thank for not making this annoying. I didn't get what all of you were talking about because the movement was normal/intuitive to me...

I was able to follow the line of people / tents about halfway up using this as a guide:


Then lost them. Amazing photo!

I was able to follow them from base camp to the upper camps. It's easy, just zoom in and take five minutes of scrolling around!

I identified people by their shadows.

Yeah we did this too. Couldn't find anyone for camp 4 though. I have a decent guess where it as though.

I saw the /gigapans/ in the URL and googled for it, thinking it must be a super intelligent panoramic "image sticher"+"image viewer" written in flash - but found this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gigapan

The founder of the company I work for (Lot18) actually climbed Everest - so after sending him the link to this, he dropped by and explained everything we were looking at - and outlining the paths and various dangers associated with the climb. It's quite an amazing story - and I found some slides related to his climb from 2009: http://www.slideshare.net/snooth/everest-2003-north-face-res...

This is the work of David Bresears


The result of a project by David Breashears, who has already climbed the highest mountain in the world five times. He used old images of Everest and its glaciers and combined them with new ones.

The photo is part of a broader project called GlacierWorks by the mountaineer Breashears, who made the much-acclaimed IMAX documentary “Everest.”

Just spent like 25 minutes looking it over with my colleague at work. There is so much going on here, it's awesome. I was also very blown away by how big the camp at the bottom of the valley was. Most of those must be semi-permanent structures that the guides maintain. I couldn't imagine that is transient traffic. I think I remember seeing something on departures (or something) about a big festival that happens in this valley. Maybe that has some context here as well, but I have no idea. Great link!

Wow this is captivating, but panning with the mouse on a desktop is so frustrating, the image movement is opposite what I expect! (browsing on a desktop, Windows/Chrome)

Yeah, panning with the mouse was awful, but with the keyboard it became a real joy, and I started finding the climbers.

I hate this panning mode in the "opposite direction" and with velocity. I prefer to drag the image.

I guess it's the hours spent panning around in Google Maps that's working against me

I am confused, how so? It is the same as any FPS.

There might be a couple of climbers on the left ridge of Everest, which I just read is the easier climb. If you look near the base of the ridge on the left, there is a strip of snow that starts going up the mountain. Follow the ridge up you will come across a little cloud puff rising up on the other side. Just beyond that point, you will see two super-tiny parallel specks that sort of look like they are leaning into the mountain.

I only found the climbers after looking at this Everest route map:


Look for camp 3. You have to zoom all the way in, and look at where the rough snow meets the smooth snow. You'll see some super tiny yellow dots, those are the tents. The tiny black specks just to the left are climbers.

The sense of scale in the Himalayas is almost unfathomable.....

I'm amazed not by the mountain - but by the size of the camp in the valley. I knew a lot of people climbed Mt Everest, but that't practically a small city.

Everest Base Camp. Lots of people just trek up to EBC and head back, it is non-technical and can be done by most people in decent shape.

I felt the same way. There must be so much garbage on that mountain.

Everest is littered with dead, exposed bodies:


And lots of dead climbers higher up.

Nice photograph and interface. How was the photograph actually composed?

Found them... Spoiler: http://imgur.com/zpyOg

A GigaPan type device.. http://www.gigapan.com/

Those look like tents. I think these are the climbers: http://thesteve.org/up/climbers.jpg

The GlacierWorks team (in cooperation with URC Ventures) also made a photo-realistic 3D model of the Himalayas using images that were captured using a helicopter.

The preview video looks promising: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEs3euTgj8s

Background info: http://urcventures.com/whats-new/

In case anyone`s wondering, this is where the riders are: http://i.imgur.com/dTUJA.jpg

The lowest I could find (outside of basecamp) were here: http://i.imgur.com/U6GaL.jpg

Did anyone find climbers lower in the icefall?

Great picture! We are also a company based in Nepal where this picture is taken from. Our company name is after another peak - Manaslu, which is a 8th highest peak in the world. We do Ruby on Rails web development. http://www.manaslutech.com

Others will be able to fill in more detail as I'm just going off memory here, but I think this is taken from the Nepalese side.

The ice field just above Base Camp (which, wow, look at all those tents) is the Khumbu Icefall, which climbers must scale to en route to the South Col.

I think it was taken from the Kala Patthar summit or somewhere close to there. (So, yes, the Nepalese side.)

The view from Kala Patthar summit is pretty different angle, this picture must be taken from somewhere north of KP. I would guess it is from Pumori Advanced Base Camp.

URL suggests you're right: EBC_Pumori

EBC is presumably "Everest Base Camp."

This is simply breathtaking. I'm sure the app behind this is assembling tiles together, but does there exist a full-resolution image of this in a single piece?

I've tried to use my network inspector to figure out how to access the individual tiles, but no luck.

I really like the user experience and I am impressed by how fluid it runs on my computer. Much more fluid than Google maps. You should add a collaborative tagging interface, where users can choose to point out certain parts.

Amazing. I was fortunate to travel out to Alaska a couple of years ago and do some glacier climbing and hiking. It was amazing, but pales in comparison to the vast, immense power of this photo. Awesome.

What kind of equipment was used to take this photo? It's pretty amazing!

Didn't find any climbers but found lots of bits of dust on my screen.

For more photos of the mountain and others, the photographers' site: http://www.glacierworks.org/the-glaciers/

There are also some interesting "behind the scenes" photos on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/glacierworks/

Some guys? http://postimage.org/image/xwf2yb46t/ from another view of tour.

How do you take a billion pixel photos? All the cameras I've ever heard of is mega pixels... I've never heard of a billa pixel camera before.

You merge hundreds thousands mega pixel pictures!

When I saw the picture and it was totally zoom out , I thought it was a small road between some small hills. That's totally a fractal!

At first look the mountain looked so small. Then i found some humans, the size of ants, and it was all put into perspective. Wow.

Is this a climber or just a shadow? http://cl.ly/image/3m3K3x0n3k1U

From this point it doesn't look so high. But when you start zooming, some parts seems like they're few miles and other, endless.

Amazing. It's things like this that put the world in perspective. How much we can achieve, the beauty of the world, etc.

Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no. And no, I couldn't find the climbers.

I wish that this was retina-ready because it sounds like two billion pixels is what this machine was made for.

If you don't look at the pointers, this is the most difficult Where's Waldo ever.

Can you find the dead climber? That's the real question. I found one already.

Shouldn't be that hard, there are loads of the poor buggers. Just look around the climbing routes, they don't (can't) move most of the bodies AFAIK.

Bit morbid though.

I read Into Thin Air, about the 1996 account by a reporter who was with the crew that lost 4 members. After poking around I saw someone saying the Sherpas will kick bodies in the crevasses and they wash out in the Spring. Sad, but with a rate of 1:4 before 1996, then 1:7 after on death ratios its gotten much better. However, it takes money/balls/stupidity to climb that thing.

Could not find the climbers. But this 2B pixel photo is just awesome. :)

Could you remove the XML reference to mobile/tablet images in krpano?

Does anyone know how this picture was taken or who took the picture?

Beautiful and terrifying. I could examine this for hours.

This is the nicest picture I have seen in a while.

Would be nice if they offered a web version too.

Nice, it works neat on my retina display, :D

This would be awesome for Where's Waldo

Yes, I did - but by pure luck :p

If you start at Base Camp and follow the route up you can see quite a few - I've spotted around 30.

Difficult to believe how big Base Camp is!

This is absolutely gorgeous.

Need banana for scale.

Huge mountain is Huge.


What is the point? are you load testing S3 or something?

The point is that the creation of that high-resolution image of Everest is a noteworthy technological achievement, and most people have never seen such a high quality photograph of our planet's highest mountain before.

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