Google has mapped everything from our streets and trails to Hawaiian lava flows and Everest Base Camp. Now, thanks to the help of climbers Tommy Caldwell, Alex Honnold, and Lynn Hill, the search engine giant has mapped El Capitan, one of the most iconic chunks of granite in Yosemite Valley.
"Our goal has always been to provide the most comprehensive experience to people around the world," says Deanna Yick, program manager of Google Maps Street View. "Just because the road ends and we can't drive a car there doesn't mean there aren't things we want to see."
One day after his ascent of the Dawn Wall last January, Caldwell strapped a tripod and camera set-up typically used by Google to photograph 360-degree views of businesses to his backpack and went right back up the wall. "Tommy really got us dialed in with all the logistics," say Yick, "He was our main rigger and helped us figure out how to suspend the camera horizontally and get it working 3,000 feet off the ground."
That same month, Honnold and Hill shot their sequences as well. The images of the climbers in action were captured by Peter Mortimer and Josh Lowell of Sender Films and Big Up Productions, respectively. "Very few people will ever get to climb a route on El Cap," says project manager Sandy Russell, who's first climb in Yosemite a few years ago inspired the project. "But now everyone can experience it."
Google isn't sharing any news about future projects but, "now that we have a process in place," says Yick, "there are a lot more places we'd like to capture and share with the world."
Tommy Caldwell on the Dawn Wall
Lynn Hill Changing Corners
Alex Honnold on the King Swing