The spring climbing season on Mount Everest and the surrounding peaks of the Himalaya is now upon us. As long-time readers of this blog may recall, one of my bucket list items is seeing Mount Everest in person. Until then I have to entertain myself with books, videos, and imagery of the mountain. Here are some of the resources that I like to consult when teaching students about Mount Everest and the area surrounding it.
Through Google’s Street View imagery of Mount Everest Basecamp (south side) students can zoom and pan around the foothills of Mount Everest. Students viewing that imagery for the first time might be surprised at how different the view is compared the to the typical pictures of Everest. After viewing the imagery students can click forward to see Street View imagery of other places in the region.
Most educational resources give a very western perspective on Mount Everest. There’s another side of Everest and that is the perspective of the Sherpa people who are native to the area and have climbed Everest more than any other group. Kraig Becker at The Adventure Blog shared a great BBC documentary about Sherpas who work with westerners on the mountain. You can watch the video below. Before showing the video to your students, you may want to remind them that Sherpa is an ethnic group, not a job title.
Glacier Works, Microsoft, and David Breashears collaborated to develop a great site called Everest: Rivers of Ice. Everest: Rivers of Ice is an interactive site that takes visitors on a virtual trek to Mount Everest base camp. There are eight stops along the way to base camp. At each stop viewers can explore panoramic images of valleys and glaciers. After completing the virtual trek to base camp viewers can compare the size of Himalayan glaciers in the 1920’s to the size of those same glaciers today.
Panoramas.dk, hosts dozens of other interactive panoramas from around the world. Included in that list is a 360 degree interactive panoramic image taken from the peak of Mt. Everest. Using that panoramic image students can see what mountaineers see when they stand on the peak of Mt. Everest. The image includes views of the famous Khumbu valley as well as Everest’s neighboring peaks Lhotse, Changtse, Makalu, and Nupste.
Snow in the Kingdom: My Storm Years on Everest by Ed Webster (a fellow Mainer) is one of the best books ever written about Mount Everest. If you enjoy good adventure stories and or stories about overcoming personal struggles, I think you will enjoy Webster’s book. For my money, and I own two copies of it, it does a far better job of explaining how it feels to be on Mount Everest than any of the two dozen or so books that I’ve read about Mount Everest and the Himalaya.
Scaling Everest is an infographic that goes beyond the usual scale of Everest comparisons to buildings and jet flight paths. In the infographic you will find audio of three Everest climbers talking about the approach to Everest basecamp and the nuances of the climb itself. The infographic also provides some interesting facts about plants and animals in the region.