Part of the magic of VR is its ability to transport us to new places and open the door on experiences we might not otherwise have. Few people have the opportunity to see Mount Everest in person, much less to reach its summit. Today, that changes with the launch of Everest VR: Journey to the Top of the World—a new three-part VR documentary now available on Oculus TV for Oculus Quest. You can also save Episode 1, Episode 2, and Episode 3 to your VR library and watch from your Quest any time.
The project was inspired by Ueli Steck—a world-famous climber who tragically died in 2017 while preparing for one of his most ambitious climbs, summiting both Mount Lhotse and Mount Everest without the use of bottled oxygen. His close friends, filmmaker Jonathan Griffith and Sherpa Tenji, decided to try and finish what Steck had started, with Tenji attempting the climb without bottled oxygen while Griffith captured the spellbinding story.
“Ueli mentored Sherpa Tenji from a very young age,” Griffith explains. “He really took him under his wing. They were on this project to do it together, so it felt fitting to get Tenji to try and finish up his mentor’s climb in his stead.”
The series begins in the French Alps, following elite mountain athletes and exploring their motivations. “These are people I’ve climbed and skied with all of my professional career, so they’re incredibly good and we moved very fast,” says Griffith. “My ethos has always been to keep it real. So we’re bringing these cameras up really big mountain routes—things people consider to be a lifetime climb. It’s something they’ll remember the rest of their lives, and we’re carrying this whole rigging and shooting everything in a day. We need to move fast and efficiently because you just don’t have time to hang about with a big crew at all.”
The series also captures a Himalayan avalanche, a rock climbing fall, and a surfeit of breathtaking views. “Obviously the view is everything,” Griffith notes. “I love VR because you can’t make a sunrise or sunset look more saturated than it is because then it doesn’t look real to the viewer. I can’t tilt the camera to make a climb steeper than it is because the horizon will be off. You can’t cheat in VR. It keeps me really honest as a content creator.”
To learn more, visit jonathangriffith.eu.