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New technology lets you 'stand in heaven' atop Everest

Published January 24, 2014 9:14 am

Camera • A 360-degree view is incorporated into the upcoming Apa Sherpa documentary.
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Apa Sherpa stood on the highest point of the planet a world record 21 times. Not once did he do it for himself.

The early climbs were about getting clients to the top of Mount Everest — and more importantly back down — while trying to provide for his family in Nepal. Later climbs were used to create awareness about climate change, the Sherpa culture and the importance of education. There was nothing Apa liked more than seeing the look on people's faces when they stood on top of Everest and took in the view.

He is officially retired from summit attempts, but the Utah resident is still giving people a chance to "stand in heaven" and adding to his string of world records at the same time.

Apa, who now lives in Draper, will head to Park City Friday to make a presentation at the Sundance Film Festival about "Tiger of the Himalayas: The Apa Sherpa Story," a documentary slated for release later this year. Apa and the crew of Everest Media Productions will also show off video shot on Everest in a 360, 3D and spherical format.

"I'm very proud to have this video and picture technology included in the documentary," Apa told The Salt Lake Tribune. "It is exciting and amazing and nobody had to lose their fingers to take the pictures. Before we would try to stand and turn and take pictures. This is video and pictures above, below and all around. It is fun."

The 360, spherical and high-definition view was provided by technology developed by Michael Kintner, founder of 360Heros.

"I found Mike while I was looking on the Internet for 360 camera systems," said David Faires, director of the documentary. Using "360 was the best way to express this documentary."

Kintner prepared a 360Heros camera for an expedition to Everest in the spring of 2013. A crew shot video all along the way, culminating with the stills and video shot on top of the world.

It took three attempts to get the footage that would eventually land Apa and the entire team in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "First Fully Spherical HD 360 Degree Video Filmed on the Summit of Mount Everest."

The first scheduled summit attempt from Camp 4 on Everest was thwarted by sickness and a technical issue got in the way on the second attempt. Conditions were a bit crowded — as is typically the case during the narrow window of summiting opportunity on Everest — but the weather was as good as it gets above 29,000 feet with clear skies and reasonable winds.

Apa was not on the summit that day — not even in base camp, but he was vital in the success of the filming.

"He was the one who took us to the top; he was our guide," said Tami Bradshaw, executive producer and director of the "Tiger of the Himalayas." "He told us what to expect and we accomplished miracles. He was there with us."

The still image taken on Everest with the 360Heros H3Pro6 camera configuration can be viewed on the web. Within a month the team expects to have a free mobile device application available that will allow viewers to load the image. Once loaded, the viewer rotates with the device in their hand and the scene moves in that direction — right, left, up and down. There is also a zoom function.

A line of the camera configuration devices are available starting at $495 — without the cameras.

Apa, who already owns 11 world records — one set for the initial time he broke the summit record and each time he bested himself in the following years — said he was excited to be part of another record involving Everest. Particularly because this one didn't involve worrying his family.

"This was much easier than the other records," Apa said with a laugh. "It is crazy what technology can do now. Many times I was climbing and we only dreamed of having a phone to call our family and tell them we were safe. Now climbers can call from anywhere on the mountain. It is exciting that we can share with people what the top of Everest looks like."

Jerry Mika helped Apa move to the United States so Apa could put his children through school and spend time with them while partnering in the Apa Sherpa Foundation. Mika is glad to see the documentary finally coming to fruition.

"Apa deserves this documentary, but it really isn't about him. It's about all the kids around the world he wants to help get an education and all the personal information he has on the impacts climate change has had on his homeland," Mika said. "This is a documentary worthy of Apa's efforts and his amazing smile."


Twitter: @BrettPrettyman —

Stand on Everest via your device

Those on a mobile device can use this link to experience it on their phone or tablet: http://hosting.360heros.com/360video/2013-MountEverest/index.html —

Learn more at Sundance

Apa Sherpa and Jerry Mika of Everest Media Productions will discuss the documentary "Tiger of the Himalayas: The Apa Sherpa Story," which includes the first 360, 3D and spherical video footage shot from the highest point in the world on Mount Everest, on Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. at the Sundance House presented by HP, 638 Park Ave, in Park City. The house is open to the public and the event is free.






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