My plan for June or July of 2019, was to attempt a ‘Double Everesting’ in the Chiltern Hills, UK and in so doing raise funds for my late sister’s charity, the Lucy Monro Memorial Trust. I made it to 7,000m quite easily, but then suddenly felt very nauseous. My legs felt great, but this was the same nutrition/hydration issue that had made Everestings #3, #4 and #5 so difficult in their latter stages, such that I knew there was no way that I could do another 10,000m. My mind – usually my strongest asset – pulled the plug in a blink.
We later decided that I was almost certainly suffering from hyponatremia – a serious condition that arises when sodium levels in the blood become misaligned with hydration. Whether my problem was over-hydrating, or too much salt loss, was the key question.
To test the theory, in early August I Everested Strata Florida in west Wales – a 3km gravel climb. Physically, despite being gravel, it was the easiest Everesting I’ve done. Nutritionally, I felt good, but still not perfect.
I still intend to re-attempt the Double. Neither August, nor September presented the right window and it’s now getting very late in the year for the weather to play ball, not to mention the lack of daylight.
I may just have to carry this particular project forward to 2020…
What is Everesting?
The idea behind Everesting couldn’t be simpler: cycle up and down a hill, repeatedly, until you’ve tallied 8,848m of cumulative ascent – the height of Mount Everest. The reality is a c.20 – 24 hour endurance battle that pushes you towards your physical and mental limits. Succeed, and you become a member of the elite HELLS 500 club – a global affiliation of cyclists who have Everested.
You can Everest any hill or mountain in the world by logging 8,848m of ascent on the same route in a single stint. Breaks are allowed but sleep isn’t. Typical attempts take around 20 – 24 hours, so it’s a significant test of both physical endurance and mental resolve. If you succeed, you upload your GPS data onto everesting.cc. Once it’s been vetted and approved, you gain a place in the Everesting Hall of Fame and receive a highly coveted HELLS 500 grey stripe jersey to prove it.
For your climb to count, you need to follow the official rules:
- Record 8,848m (29,029ft) of total elevation gain
- Follow one route on one hill
- Descend on the same route you climb
- No sleep – you must complete the challenge in a single stint
- Breaks (eating, drinking, recharging) are included in your time
- You must reach the summit of the hill every time
- You must descend safely and get back home
- No time limit
What is a Double Everesting?
To qualify for a double, you need to record 17,696m (58,058ft) of ascent in a single ride. No one has yet done this in the UK (and only a handful of people have done this worldwide).
There are two additional rules:
- You can complete the entire ride on the same hill, or climb two different hills i.e. two separate Everests, providing there’s no kinetic assistance at the bottom i.e. this works: ʌ , but this doesn’t: v
- You’re allowed up to two hours sleep during the second Everesting, in an attempt to improve rider safety
Whiteleaf Hill and Kop Hill, Chiltern Hills, UK
I planned to Everest two hills that share the same summit. They’re both very steep, meaning that I gained height quickly, but they’re physically hard. Kop Hill (1km at c.10% average, 25% max) requires 89 repetitions and Whiteleaf Hill (1.3km at c.10% average, 25% max) requires 70 repetitions.
I estimated the ride would take c.44 hours, including breaks. I would have ridden c.370km (230 miles).
I planned to take two 45 minute ‘micro-sleeps’ during the second Everesting, with 30 minutes held in reserve if needed.
I gave myself just a 50% chance of success, despite feeling well prepared – this proved to be a fair guess! This is undoubtedly the hardest thing I’ve attempted, by some margin.
That’s a question I’ve asked myself repeatedly! Having Everested five times (now six – see above), already (including on Whiteleaf Hill in 2016), I’m drawn to the questions ‘What if I just kept going? What am I capable of?’
I also intend to use the ride to raise funds for my late sister’s charity, the Lucy Monro Memorial Trust. Lucy died in an accident in 2015, whilst riding in a cycling event in Dubai. In life, she had consistently championed and supported three charitable themes: child support and education, disaster relief and animal welfare, worldwide.
In the wake of her passing, we – her family and close friends – established the Lucy Monro Memorial Trust to continue these efforts in Lucy’s name. Four years on, these are some examples of things that the Trust has done:
- the refurbishment of two schools in Nepal and restocking their libraries with books
- the provision of bespoke/modified bicycles for children suffering/recovering from cancer in the UK (ongoing)
- the rescue of 33 children from slavery (and worse) in India and returned them to school in Nepal
- a project to empower women in remote parts of the world by providing them with sustainable sanitary products
- built and equipped a science lab for a girls school in Nepal
I, my wife Jenny and Lucy’s partner Allan are the Trustees of LMMT and together we absorb all of the charity’s costs. Her Dubai based cycling team (Team LMT) ride on in her name and contribute funds every year. ALL funds raised go entirely to the charities we choose to support and we due-diligence those charities thoroughly. In particular, we support causes and appeals where the outcome is immediate and very tangible.
I’m asking people to sponsor me per metre climbed and in so doing, assist with my mental resolve when the ride turns grim!
The beauty of an Everesting is that you can pick any date you like. I had earmarked a number of ‘windows’ in June and July, when daylight hours were at their longest, but in reality I can try on any day (s) of the year.
I usually take the first date that presents a reasonable weather window: dry, ideally not too hot and without a headwind.
How to Follow my Progress?
I and/or my helpers will update my Instagram account quite regularly: @sirguylitespeed and that will also cover my Facebook account: Guy Litespeed
If you have any queries, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for reading this and for any support you feel able to offer.
Guy, June 2019.