As the everesting.cc website states: pick one hill, anywhere in the world, repeatedly ride said hill until the height of Mt Everest (8,848m) is reached. You must complete the ascent in one activity, there is no time limit and there should be no sleep. It’s a simple concept but fiendishly challenging.
The idea was born by an Australian cyclist George Mallory, who came up with the idea whilst thinking of ways to increase his endurance training for an attempt of climbing the mountain itself. The first Everesting was completed by George on Mount Donna Buang, just outside Melbourne in 1994. George went on to climb Everest itself a year later, afterwards stating, “Everesting is not really like the real thing. Having climbed Everest’s north ridge, I can confidently say that an Everest ride is physically harder than any one day on Everest. But on Everest, a mountaineer needs to do several hard days in succession with limited food and recovery.”
It took a while for the concept to catch on, 20 years in fact, before cycle club and website, Hells 500, took the idea for one of their annual ‘Epic’ rides. Swearing 65 riders to secrecy, a simultaneous Everesting took place with 45 riders succeeding. The challenge gained momentum, word spread, and the Hells 500 website grew into a hall of fame, where all those who have made first ascents are logged along with their Strava files.
The evolving Everest challenge
Over time the challenge has evolved, sure it still attracts a lot of kudos to be the first to Everest a local hill, though a larger number of riders now aim for the longest attempt (currently 501km) or the shortest (95km). Completing the challenge in the most reps (long, low gradients of climb) or the least (super steep and high). There has been off road/ gravel successes and more recently, with the advent of Zwift, virtual Everestings. All of which come with different considerations needed to even begin to attempt the challenge and also a certain mindset needed to succeed.
If you’re tempted to have a go at your own attempt, the first thing to consider is your endurance, you’re going to be in the saddle a long time (if you chose a typical hill with an average gradient of 6/7%). The longer you’re in the saddle depends on the length of the climb, the longer the climb – the longer the descent between each rep, which subsequently clocks up your distance and time taken – potentially making the challenge more difficult to achieve.
Attempts can be lonely and those which have been more successful are those where a group of riders have completed the ride together. Having company can help with the battles in your mind, as the hours clock up the battle with your mind and body begins. Having a group riding with you or friends accompanying you for part of the challenge can make time move quicker and distract from the pain and voices in your head.
Fuelling for the climb
In planning an attempt, you must be prepared to ride through dark early hours, often ending in the dark, lights are therefore essential. It also helps to have a support team stationed either at the summit or the start of the climb. Having supply bars, Isotonic and energy gels, as well as electrolyte and energy drinks will help fuel your progress. Although a lot can be said for real food – such as sandwiches, biscuits and sugary drinks, for when morale is low or the ‘going gets tough’.
Tech top tips
It’s inevitable that during your attempt your bike computer will begin to run low on charge, it’s important to keep an eye on the charge of your devices – making sure you have a portable power bank, which you can plug into the computer to ensure your device continues to function and records your ride. There would be nothing worse than losing your first 18 reps due to a low battery.
From many discussions I have had with club members, attempts which have the greatest success tend to be on hills with ascents of around 3km and a gradient of between 6 and 7%.
Summit success stories
I happen to know five riders who have completed an Everesting challenge. All five of which are incredibly different. The first Everest I ever heard of was Stephen Graham’s successful Everest of ‘Brickworks’ in 2015 to, most recently, Nicholas Bovaird being part of Andy Van Bergen’s team who Everested the road leading to the base camp at Mt Everest. Other club members who have had success included James Lyons and his Everest of the Struggle. Gary Coppinger and his ascent of Blackstone Edge and finally John McKellar, who successfully Everested Owd Betts in Rochdale.
The beauty and simplicity of the challenge is that it can be carried out anywhere in the world on any hill you choose, only you and your mindset stand in the way.