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Heart-in-mouth walk on Snowdon knife-edge produces weirdest mountain views you'll ever see

Heart-in-mouth walk on Snowdon knife-edge produces weirdest mountain views you'll ever see
For some people walking along Crib Coch’s knife-edge ridge on Snowdon, it can be a head-spinning experience at what seems like the end of the earth.
But for one camera enthusiast from Bangor, the video he has produced (above) makes the route – often dubbed the UK’s most dangerous – appear like the top of the world.
Using a Labpano Era 360-degree camera, Bernd Kronmueller has created an otherworldly perspective of one of Britain’s most famous mountain scrambles.
What’s more, he created the video while holding his camera aloft on a 1.5 metre pole as he picked his way across a route with sheer drops either side.
“I like a nice scramble,” said Mr Kronmueller, 55.
“Going over Crib Goch isn’t all that scary or dangerous – if there isn’t much of a wind.
“That’s always the biggest problem.
“The wind comes up through the valley and hits you and the camera.
“When I shot this video, there was hardly any wind.”
image.pngSnowdonia's peaks as viewed from above Snowdon's summit using a 360-degree camera (Image: Bernd Kronmueller)
In fact, to get just the right conditions for his Crib Goch video, Mr Kronmueller only unpacked his 360 camera on his fifth visit.
The camera has four lenses and records a video stream in 90 degrees segments, which are then stitched together automatically to produce a full 360 view.
In doing so the middle part of the video is exaggerated, creating a “little planet” effect in which the subject appears to bestride the world.
As the camera has a small blind spot, its pole is blurred out from the video, making it appear as though camera is hovering above the user.
“I don’t think I’d have ever done Crib Goch if I’d have been shown this perspective beforehand!” wrote one Facebook user after the video was posted.
image.pngA 360 image from the Snowdon's summit in which walkers appear to look down on the sky (Image: Bernd Kronmueller)
Mr Kronmueller began making 360 panoramas around a decade ago.
He’d moved to North Wales from his native Germany some five years earlier after his wife took up a lecturing post at Bangor University.
As a former software engineer, mostly working on mobile phone technology, he helped to develop, among other things, Sony Ericsson’s SMS texting technology.
“It was a big thing back then,” said the father-of-two.
“But nowadays no one wants to press abc, def and so on, just to write a message."
He continued: “When we came to North Wales I took on the house husband role, looking after the kids.
“When they started going to school, it gave me more time to explore the mountains and 360 panoramas.
“During lockdown I began to post some nice 360 panoramas of the mountains to keep everyone’s spirits up.”
From the early days, when he would painstakingly stitch images together to create panoramas, he moved on to high end cameras that can do the job for him.
For 360 photographs he prefers SLR cameras as they offer greater resolution and clarity.
Videos require specialist cameras which can be picked up for as little as £300.
His Labpano Era, however, cost 10 times as much.
image.pngA panoramic view from Snowdon’s summit (Image: Bernd Kronmueller)
On Facebook there are a number of groups for panorama enthusiasts, but beyond their curiosity value 360 videos often have limited real-world applications.
An exception is virtual tours.
Mr Kronmueller has offered his striking videos to North Wales attractions, museums and organisations, but other than the Airworld Aviation Museum in Caernarfon, uptake has been limited.
“I think many museums see virtual tours as competition to what they are offering,” he said.
“By putting them on their websites, perhaps they worry it will stop people visiting them.
“But there’s no substitute for actually being in a place, and seeing things close up, and I feel these videos will encourage people to visit.”
Some of Mr Kronmueller’s videos end up on Google maps.
image.pngAnother ‘little planet’ view from above Snowdon’s summit (Image: Bernd Kronmueller)
Using his software skills, he also harnessed 360 technology to design PanoPuzzle, on strangely addictive online game that’s like a mind-bending version of Tantrix.
Players must rotate picture squares to complete a 360 photograph.
Many of the photos are of North Wales landmarks, giving a unique insight into the likes of St Asaph Cathedral and the National Slate MuseumLlanberis.
Despite little publicity, PanoPuzzle is attracting a small but steady stream of enthusiasts.
“It has about 50 people playing it each day,” he said.
“So far I’ve added 87 puzzles and I’d like to add 13 mountain pictures to get it up to 100.”
  • To view interactive versions of Bernd's Snowdon panoramas, view the Kuula website.
  • Click here to have a go at PanoPuzzles of the National Slate Museum
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