Scaling Mount Everest has been the ultimate pipe dream among adventurers for generations. While many have made it to the world’s highest peak since May 29, 1953, the day Sir Edmund Hillary and his Nepalese guide, Tenzing Norgay, became the first people to reach Everest on record, it’s still a feat that’s too far out of reach for most modern climbers.
To this day, acclaimed mountain climbers still lose their lives attempting to tame Everest, as some of the most unpredictable weather on Earth – coupled with the immense challenges the human body faces at such high elevations – make the trip nearly impossible most of the year. Now, those curious to witness what Everest has in store firsthand no longer have to rely on written accounts describing the journey, as Time Inc.’s Capturing Everest series utilizes the company’s LIFE VR App to deliver a four-part virtual reality documentary that brings viewers closer to the summit than ever before.
Produced in conjunction with Sports Illustrated – a subsidiary publication of Time Inc. – the series is presented in four parts and follows experienced climbers Brent Bishop, Lisa Thompson and Jeff Glasbrenner this past spring as they scaled Everest following two years of cancellations due to inclement weather and safety concerns. While Bishop’s father was among the first American team to summit Everest in 1963, Thompson is a recent breast cancer survivor and Glasbrenner is now the first American amputee to scale the slope, making this an important personal journey for everyone involved.
While each installment in the series is only roughly three to five minutes in length, the episodic nature and duration of the project makes it unique compared to previous experiments in VR. Users need only download the LIFE VR App to download and enjoy the series using their smartphone and a cardboard headset, although it’s also available on standard VR headsets as well.
Although this footage is grittier than some of the glossier VR experiences to come online to date, critics have noted that it’s extraordinary how much material the team, who is more accustomed to climbing than filmmaking, managed to capture, particularly in a dangerous environment like Everest. This is also the latest in a series of longer-form VR projects to come online, which indicates potentially feature-length VR may not be so far off.
While scaling Everest is a one-of-a-kind undertaking, these climbers faced a lot of the same challenges amateur adventurers face when they find themselves in remote locales – especially when it comes to documenting their journeys. Often, climbers may be filming on GoPros without access to storage or connectivity, forcing them to either discard footage or miss amazing filming opportunities, not to mention inhibiting their ability to share their adventures in real time.
LINK can solve these issues by leveraging a user’s data to create a WiFi hot spot, allowing users to share their content wherever they may find themselves and to store it in an ultra-durable tool that fits right in their pocket. This will hope open up the doors to more content producers who take their adventures off the grid and want to share their journeys with people who may not have the change to witness them firsthand.