We recently stumbled across some interactive 3D models of the world's 14 highest peaks - the 'eight-thousanders' - created by French web developer Martin Laxenaire. The models include topos of ascent routes, historical information and anecdotes. We got in touch with Martin to find out more about the project.
Martin is not a climber or mountaineer himself, but he has been fascinated by mountains from a young age. He told us:
'One of my grandfathers lived in the Alps, in Chamonix Valley, so when I was a child I went walking in the mountains opposite Mont Blanc every summer. I've had a passion for high mountains and mountaineering stories ever since.
The project was born this time last year. I had just finished the book "No Shortcuts to the Top" by Ed Viesturs and I was reading a lot of articles on the heights of the Himalayas at the time. I was totally fascinated by the notion of the "Death Zone" beyond 8000 metres, where even the smallest problem can cost lives. I found the level of preparation to tackle these summits - physical, but above all mental - incredible.
For my freelance web developer CV, it was good to show that I could also work with 3D. So I downloaded a heightmap of Mount Everest and then after a bit of tinkering, I had an Everest model! For textures, I used NASA's superb satellite images. The image of Gasherbrum II was in fact missing - I had to report this to them so that they could update the site and I could finish the project!
Finally, I added the routes (based on information from books and articles I had read, plus some images found on Google) and anecdotes and data, to add an educative and informative side to the experience.'