Google Street View in the Dolomites- a good thing?

April 1, 2015

Google Street View in the Dolomites is now online. You can log on for a virtual tour of some of the trails in our mountains. Given the weight and the size of the cameras that have to be carried by the operator, only the easier trails were digitized for now. Therefore the via ferrate and the more challenging hikes are not included in Street View, based on safety concerns.
This is of course part of Google’s declared objective of making every angle of the world surface available on-line, mountain ranges included.

What is interesting is that the Unesco World Heritage Site Foundation enthusiastically joined in. Their declared objective at the meeting was to promote the Dolomites to an extended public, thus making it more attractive for people from around the world to come visit.

Right? Not according to many locals and the CAI, the Italian Alpine Club. Making the mountain trails so publicly accessible and in such an effortless way betrays the very nature of the mountain spirit. As young boys and girls we were taught that a spectacular view was and should be a reward for the hard work getting there, and that sweating it out was the cost of enjoying a cold sandwich and a glass of water after having reached the destination.

CAI goes one step further, by arguing that it can be outright dangerous. Following the trail while comfortably sitting in front of your laptop may instill a false sense of security and undermine potential risks. It also does not take into account the micro-management of a hike, all the split-second decisions a hiker must make in response to changes, such as in the weather pattern for example.

I was very impressed with what I saw in Google Street View in the Dolomite trails. There is no question that it certainly is an accurate display of what the Dolomites have to offer. However, as much as I appreciate this technological advance, I still miss the sweat and the muscles ache at the end of the trail.

Lisa Chasse