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Online photographs could one day be the only way to experience global world wonders as Machu Picchu continues to crumble and the ice and snows of Mount Everest begins to melt away.
It’s a famous view, but few have ever seen Everest as up close and personal before. Filmmaker and climate-change campaigner David Breashears spent this spring taking around 400 images of Everest and its near neighbours from a vantage point above base camp through a 300mm lens. Now he’s released them digitally stitched together to form one image – click here to see the full image.
The result is a stunning panoramic photograph of the Everest region – with a twist. You can zoom in on specific areas and see the roof of the world in extraordinary detail. From a distance small colourful dots mark the location of base camp. Zooming in, you can pick out each tent clearly – and a man bending down as he washes his face.
The high definition also allows viewers to examine the mountain’s icefall – and even pick out climbers descending between terrifying ice cliffs and crevasses. Think of it as an extreme, alpine version of Where’s Wally.
Breashears, who turns 57 tomorrow, set up GlacierWorks (glacierworks.org) five years ago to produce imagery highlighting the impact of climate change in the Himalayas. He knows Everest well, having directed the hit IMAX film about the peak and reached the summit himself five times.
But even he finds himself poring over his creation with renewed interest. “I find things I’ve never noticed before, especially on how climate change is affecting the mountain.”
By comparing his panorama with photographs from the 1950s, Breashears has been able to pinpoint just how much ice is gone from the mountain: “There are 49,000 glaciers in the Himalayas and most are showing a dramatic and accelerated melt rate.”