I just climbed Mount Everest in the middle of San Francisco


No, in virtual reality. The world hasn’t completely reconfigured

I still haven’t had much exposure to VR. Last August, I used the Oculus Rift tohigh-five a dead alien(please read that and tell me I’m funny) and pluck bullets out of the air. I still remember those events as if they were physical areas that I traversed instead of digital spaces that I temporarily inhabited.

Today, I briefly visited Sólfar Studios at the GDC VR Lounge to see its mountain climbing experience, Everest VR. An HTC Vive and a pair of headphones were placed on my head and touch controllers found their way into my hands. I watched a short video about the history of Mount Everest and was already impressed by how the looming mountain in front of me had immediately become my real world. Despite being surrounded by a few thousand humans and having someone holding a cord attached to the back of my head, Matrix-style, my brain was like, “Sure, I can accept an instant mountain.”

The booth that Everest VRwas set up in was a bit too small (something about fire hazard codes or some such prevented all VR booths from being the recommended size for the HTC Vive), but a convenient grid appears whenever you get too close to a wall so you can minimize how much of a dumbass you appear to be to the on-looking crowd. Once I had found the middle of the room, I was tasked with placing a carabiner on a rope. Then I had to move to some ropes and climb up to the next ledge. I turned around to see a fellow climber, and a blizzard blew in before I could see much else.

This whole demo lasted five minutes at most, but being able to edge up to a the side of a sheer cliff and look over accelerated my heartbeat, and I’m not even afraid of heights. It kind of makes me mad how easy it is to fool my brain. All I could think of was how quickly my dad is going to shit his pants when he eventually tries this out.Everest VRis supposed to be short, so I’m curious to see what other snowy wonders there are when you’re on top of the world.