In 1953 Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary were the first to successfully summit Everest, the world’s tallest mountain at 29,029 feet. Now, VR content house CGO Studios is teaming up with descendants of those first summiteers to recreate the momentous trek to be experienced in a historically accurate real-time VR experience.

LA based CGO Studios has demonstrated their ability to create detailed real-time VR content based on historical events with both First, which recreates the Wright Brother’s famous first flight, and Anne, focused on the trials of the Holocaust victim, Anne Frank. Now the studio is turning its sights toward the first successful summit of Mt. Everest in 1953.

Producer Jonah Hirsch, Founder of CGO Studios, is once again aiming to make historical accuracy a significant focus. Everest ’53 is being executive produced by Peter Hillary, Jamling Tenzing Norgay, and Norbu Tenzing, the sons of the very first climbers to successfully summit Mt. Everest in 1953. Both Peter Hillary and Jamling Tenzing Norgay have successfully summited Mount Everest themselves, and will be advising on the piece’s attention to historical detail and presentation of climbing techniques.

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From left to right: Alexander Hillary, Peter Hillary (grandson and son of Sir Edmund Hillary, respectively), Norbu Tenzing, and Jamling Tenzing Norgay (sons of Tenzing Norgay). | Photo courtesy CGO Studios

“In 1953 they were climbing into the unknown. Could it be done? Was the altitude going to be too much for our human physiology? And of course they were using old wooden ice axes to cut steps in the steep ice. They were literally at the limits of our knowledge and the alpine techniques of the time,” said Peter Hillary. “It was an extraordinary achievement, and the confidence of all humanity took another step up as a consequence.”

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The piece will be directed by Danny Abrahms with visual effects by Los Angeles based VFX company Dilated Pixels.

CGO Studios says that, like their prior works, Everest ’53 will be a real-time VR experience which includes interactive elements. The experience is being created initially for the Oculus Rift and Touch controllers and will be demoed publicly for the first time this year. There’s no word yet on a public release of the experience, or if it might see support for the Vive and SteamVR at some point, but the studio says Everest ’53 has been in production for more than a year now.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Miranda Taylor

    This sounds like an amazing project! I’ve always wondered how breathtaking (literally) the view would be at the top of Mt. Everest. I think being able to experience the beauty of the mountain with the men who first climbed it is going to be unreal.

  • Shannon Cherr’ie Stanley

    This is awesome. I think some of the best things that will come from VR are experiences like this. I can’t wait to see this released and hope it’s as great as it sounds!