Climbing to top of Mount Everest

Climbing to top of Mount Everest

3 June 2020

MOUNT Everest, 29,029 feet, or 8,848 metres, of awe-inspiring, difficult, adventurous, dangerous climbing. Some people have looked at Everest and thought climbing it is necessary. Others call those people crazy.

Everesting is described as “fiendishly simple, yet brutally hard”. Ride hill repeats on any hill anywhere in the world — or on Zwift, the virtual cycling simulator — in a single activity until you climb the equivalent height of Mount Everest.

The concept was created by Hells 500, who also control the induction into the Everesting Hall of Fame. Website contains the rules to follow. 

Well, call me crazy, but I did it. No, I didn’t fly to Nepal and climb the actual mountain. I’m not a former pro athlete or extraordinarily gifted human, nor am I an adventure/adrenaline junkie looking for a fix. I’m just a 40 something — 43 to be precise — son of God who has a family, a job, a dog, a bicycle, and I landed myself in the Everesting Hall of Fame. And you can too.

I decided to use the challenge to help raise funds for mental health organisations Aware and Ballynahinch Counselling Service, or The Hub, as it’s known locally. My initial target was £500 but I was astounded and humbled by the generosity of people. In the end donations totalled £1,600.

I chose to start at 7am so I could have family support at the finish. Despite the early start I was joined by my wife, Jennie, and through the day she was a great support, bringing me fresh drinks and relaying messages of support.

I turned on my favourite music playlist and hit the hill with a measured effort that I thought I could sustain for hours. I planned a bidon of sports drink for each ascent, as well as 30-50g carbs per hour. Real foods early in the ride and gels and sugary drinks for later in the ride. 

The first three or four ascents felt strangely comfortable, averaging 60 minutes up each time. I was almost an hour ahead of my estimated 12-hour schedule by midday. I later noticed some friends,, who were tracking my progress, were saying how strong I was riding and hoped that I wouldn’t pay for it later.

They were right! Ascents six and seven were so tough, even to the point where I felt physically ill, and my times were now over 80 minutes per climb.

vEveresters add the tag ‘vEveresting’ to their Zwift profile name which means anyone on the course that sees it knows you are vEveresting and many will ride with you, congratulate you, give you a thumbs up, or just encourage you to keep going.

These wonderful sherpas made it a much more enjoyable experience, especially during the sixth and seventh ascents when it was difficult to want to keep riding and my butt was telling me that I was crazy to push on.

Despite wanting to reach the finish as soon as possible, I had to listen to my body, and so I stopped for some food and a bit of a rest. Another quick shower, kit change and application of chamois cream, and I was ready to continue.

I was joined online this time by good friends Nathan Mullan and Stephen Hanna, both from Dromara Cycling Club, and Sam Carmichael and Nigel Bradley, from my old club, Northwest CC. Seeing them there gave me a real boost and that combined with knowing I had the end in sight really spurred me on to the finish.

The final 400 metres of climbing were the best - I was getting messages of encouragement from Zwifters from places as far away as Germany, USA and Colombia. I finished shortly after 7pm, over 12 hours after I first leapt into the saddle and boy did I sleep well that night. 

So to finish, I’d like to say a huge thanks to everyone for their support, to those who donated in such hard times — I’m so grateful and I’m hopeful we will make life that little bit easier for others.

I haven’t put any thought into the next challenge — on Sunday I said never again — but the beauty of cycling is there’s always the next time. For now I’ll enjoy the beautiful scenery of Co Down. See you on the road.