David Breashears, a noted filmmaker and mountaineer, captured this gigapixel image of Khumbu glacier earlier this year. Here it is.

Click on the image at the link, and explore away!

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Khumbu glacier is a 17 km long glacier that is often called the highway to Mt. Everest. What it means is roughly 90% the path to Everest follows along the glacier tongue.

The route I refer to is the standard route up South Col.

In the gigapixel image, at the center-bottom is Everest Base Camp. You can see a makeshift village of yellow tents and climbers. If you zoom in enough–and if you know where to look–you can trace the path up Khumbu icefall. Camp I and Camp II are behind ridges. But you can clearly see Camp III and Camp IV, and climbers along the way. From the Base Camp at roughly 18,000 ft., each camp is about 2,000 ft. higher than the previous, and Camp IV is 3,000 ft. below the summit. (The exact altitudes are: Base Camp 17,700 ft.,  Camp I 19,900 ft., Camp II 21,300 ft., Camp IV 24,500 ft., Camp IV 26,000 ft., Mt. Everest 29,028 ft.)

For reference, here is an image of the path up to the summit.

Once you get familiar with the path, it is easier to spot climbers along the way. The summit looks clear and in my limited knowledge, this ought to have been a nice day to summit.

You can identify the summit of Everest by the steady jet-stream of snow from its summit (the peak behind and to its right is Lhotse). It’s a peculiar characteristic of Everest. The winds up there are perennially strong that no snow is allowed to settle at the summit. Contrary to expectation, the summit block of Everest is therefore naked with only tiny patches covered in ice.

Having only read–admittedly a fair bit–about Everest ascents, I had a mental image of what the trail would be like. This was not what I had imagined. If I’m honest, it is a tad bit scarier than but every bit as thrilling as I had imagined. The path up to Camp III and the precarious location of Camp III in particular induced butterflies in my stomach.

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Thanks @bandra_girl.

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Update: Spotting climbers and camps in that image is evidently difficult. Here’s a screenshot in which I’ve marked climbers and camps. Black circles are the camps and the climbers are circled in red. Hope that helps.

Khumbu Glacier

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