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Google takes Street View cameras up Everest, Kilimanjaro and more

Always wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, but don't have the time, strength, stamina, or determination? Google Maps will help you cross the expedition off of your list, while still in your pyjamas.

The web giant has debuted its new Street View special collection: the world's highest peaks.

"Now you can explore some of the most famous mountains on Earth," Google adventurer Dan Fredinburg wrote in a blog post, pointing to South America's Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro in Africa, Europe's Mount Elbrus, and Everest Base Camp in Asia. These mountains, along with three others make up the Seven Summits — the highest mountain on each of the seven continents.

"While there's nothing quite like standing on the mountain, with Google Maps you can instantly transport yourself to the top of these peaks and enjoy the sights without all of the avalanches, rock slides, crevasses, and dangers from altitude and weather that mountaineers face," Fredinburg said.

The panoramic images were captured over the course of 18 months with a tripod, digital camera, and fisheye lens, producing HDR photography, which was then stitched into Google Maps to build a more comprehensive site.

Explorer and Google people programs manager Sara Pelosi kept an ongoing journal during her trip, offering snippets of her thoughts during the 12 days she and her team spent on a trek to Everest Base Camp, "battling altitude sickness, an earthquake, mudslides, snow storms, and flash floods," she said.

Some members of the expedition team participated in a Google Hangout this afternoon, sharing stories and the finished product with viewers, as well as answering questions about the special collection which, for many of the participants, was a very personal experience.

The entire collection is available via the Street View Gallery, and can be downloaded in Google Maps on the iPhone and Android devices.

Google meanwhile recently took its Street View cameras inside the Indianapolis Colts' stadium, more than 90 global ski resorts, and even to the Grand Canyon. Earlier this month, the team announced a major expansion of its European service, making maps of the continent "more comprehensive and usable."