Features editor al finds out if it's possible to climb (and descend) 8,848m on one mountain in 12 hours
Everesting is a pure challenge of skill, stamina and strength. The rules, set out by the Hells 500 club, state that you need to ascend the equivalent of Mount Everest – that’s 8,848m – in one continuous ride, lapping the same route. It’s man versus mountain, stripping everything back to basics. There’s no getting off to walk the steep bits. And doping is a definite no-no. Including, unfortunately for me, mechanical doping.
That’s right, you’ve got me. Guilty as charged. As a professional keyboard basher, not a hardcore endurance racer, I couldn’t attempt a ride of this magnitude without some kind of help. My weapon of choice would be a Cannondale Moterra LT1 with 250w of pedalling assistance. I knew I’d get flack for ‘cheating’, but even with an e-bike it would be no mean feat. Climbing 8,848m is the equivalent of seven ascents of Ben Nevis or nearly 20 of Cwmcarn’s Cafall trail, and I’d still be adding my own pedal power the whole way.
I wouldn’t just be coasting back down either. I’d chosen to attempt the challenge on Le Pleney, in Morzine – a French mountain that’s famous for its black-graded downhill track. During my desk-bound fantasies of completing this mammoth task, I’d calculated that I’d need to do roughly 19 runs of the mountain. That would give me just 45 minutes for each ‘lap’, so I’d have to pedal hard enough to keep the e-bike right at its 15.5mph motor cutout point on the climbs and descend the root and rock-riddled DH run as fast as I dared.
MUDDYING THE WATERS
Sitting at the top of Le Pleney at 8am in the pouring rain isn’t exactly a dream riding experience, but here I am, in the name of pushing my body, bike and temperament to the limit. I’ve whizzed to the top of the 500m climb in just 17 minutes, when it normally takes 36 on my trail bike. But summiting the mountain in double time has taken its toll – there are only three bars out of five remaining on the Cannondale’s battery indicator.
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