The 2020 spring climbing season on Everest may have been largely interrupted by the current global pandemic, but last year the mountain saw a banner year. Amidst a record number of summits—and fatalities—were a number of very strong teams and climbers. Amongst them was none other than Renan Ozturk, who came not to climb Everest, but to film it in a way that it never been seen before. And while he was there, he hoped to solve one of the more enduring mysteries of the mountain that has persisted for nearly a century.
In 2019, Ozturk spent the spring climbing season in the Himalaya on the North Side of Everest in Tibet. From there, he operated several specially modified drones that were designed to capture video footage and take photos of Mt. Everest. His main goal was to capture the summit of the mountain using 360º photo and video technology, giving us a look at the world’s tallest peak from an angle that we’ve never seen before. The result of this project is Everest From Above, which is being hosted on the National Geographic website at this very moment.
The 360º presentation begins with views of the Himalaya starting at the Rongbuk Glacier at around 17,000 feet (5181 meters). That’s where North Side Base Camp is located and in the photos, we can see the summit of Everest in the distance. The project allows you to activate labels that indicate where the summits of several prominent peaks are located, making it easier to not just identify Everest, but Pumori, Chengzheng, and others as well. As you would expect, the views are utterly spectacular too.
Each successive photo in the Everest From Above presentation takes us further up the mountain, plunging deep into the Rongbuk Glacier itself, then continuing upwards to Camp 1. That’s as high as Ozturk himself went, although his drones did manage to go higher still. All of that work was done as support for a Nat Geo feature story about how a team of climbers traveled to the mountain to search for the missing body of Sandy Irvine. As you may recall, Irvine accompanied George Mallory on an attempt to climb the mountain back in 1924, with both men perishing somewhere high on its flanks. That has set off a decades-long debate as to whether or not Mallory and Irvine actually reached the summit of Everest nearly 30 years earlier than Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.
Some believe that they may have been successful, and perished on the descent. Others feel it was impossible for them to make it to the top using the equipment and skills of the day. Experts have said the only way to be sure is to find the duo’s missing camera, which may have photos on it indicating summit success. Mallory’s body was found by an expedition back in 1999—by Conrad Anker no less—but the camera wasn’t amongst his possessions. That was no surprise however, as researchers have always felt that Irvine would have been carrying the camera the entire time. Unfortunately, his body has yet to be found, which means the camera is still missing and the mystery lives on.
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