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Six months after Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson became the first folks to free-climb the 3,000-foot rock El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, a grueling jaunt that took 19 days, Google has arrived on the scene to publish its first ever “vertical” Street View imagery.

Rather than sending its own engineers up the sheer cliff face, Google teamed up with Caldwell and two other legendary climbers — Lynn Hill and Alex Honnold.

El Capitan Camp

Above: El Capitan camp

Working with Google to “figure out some absurd challenges,” as Caldwell put it, they hauled a camera up the full 3,000 feet, and even captured the traditional (and necessary) camp-out that happens a third of the way up El Capitan.

There were two facets to the venture. One involved capturing the climbers in various iconic spots up the cliff. For the second, Honnold was tasked with collecting imagery of the whole route of The Nose on El Capitan.

A result of the initiative is this new Google-powered Yosemite Treks page, which takes budding climbers on an instructional tour up the iconic rock.

Google Street View has been venturing increasingly into weird and wonderful places of late, far from any actual “street.” It has covered everything from the reconstruction efforts of the Japan earthquake and the mysteries of Loch Ness, to the vistas of Greenland and the glories of the Amazon rainforest. And earlier this week it launched its first images of Mount Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

Apple is in the early stages of capturing its own Street View-style imagery, with cars currently hitting roads around the world. But it will have a long way to go to catch up with Google’s gargantuan efforts.

Meanwhile, Google has created a mini film of its foray up El Capitan.


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