"Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?" was the question asked of George Mallory prior to his catastrophic 1924 expedition to the Himalayas. His response, “because it’s there” somehow perfectly captured both the spirit and futility of the challenge that lay ahead. In essence, to coin another mountaineering phrase, “brutally simple and simply brutal”.
Whilst I make no claims to be on par with George who had no issue marching 480km before even reaching the foot of the mountain, dressed only in 'knickerbockers and tweeds' as protection against snowstorm there is something in the quote “because it’s there” that rings true .
Justin and Jens had set the precedent a year before to climb the altitude of 8848m as a hill rep exercise on Damingshan in Zheijang and then there it stood, the challenge that needed adding to the palmares of beautifully futile and painfully stupid things to do on a bike like ticking off Dishui and Dianshan in a single ride or doing the round trip to Moganshan from HQM.
So as to spare the details of when it started to hurt and where it started to hurt first I will keep the report to a (relatively) concise mountain log of the 7.5 reps required in order to enter the everesting.cc hall of fame.
Climb 1 : Porridge washed down with a cafetiere full of the good stuff. Felt amazing and proceeded to get very excited well above threshold pace. The thunderstorm quickly drowned out initial optimism as road turned to river and the risk of landslide threatened the whole operation.
Climb 2: All kit completely soaked and had to stop my head drifting to images of petit dejeuner sets and warm showers. Descents were getting very cold and finished the second climb a shivering wreck.
Climb 3: Began settling into the rhythm of being both very wet and very bored. Started a strange lonely game of attacking out of the saddle between various dead toads on the road to relieve said boredom but thought better of it after struggling to digest my 6th oat bar of the day.
Climb 4: The promise of noodles and overcoming the halfway mark did wonders for morale. Listened to a 1 hour kygo mix and felt like a king. puncture killed the vibe.
Climb 4.5: Noodle power kicked in and dangerously started thinking of the end. Heavy cloud and not being able to see 20m in front made descending frustratingly slow and forearms very sore. Luckily met Justin who asked if I had lights. . .I didn’t, back to base camp.
Climb 5.5: Darkness fell and lights came out, spooky in the mist and not a single soul about. Big 600W effort running scared from a barking dog kicked me into action.
Climb 6.5: Some sort of bushy tailed badger jumped out from the forest waking me up from a 39/30 mountain crawl. Suddenly started questioning what other animals might surprise me and wondered if my FTP was enough to outpace a tiger.
Climb7.5: Last rep now and nothing to stop me despite my knees feeling like they'd grown their own knees overnight. Clouds cleared a little on top and took a moment off the bike to try and recognize a few constellations. Through caution to the wind on the last descent and happy to see a smiling Justin as a late night welcome party.
Huge thanks to the base camp logistics, hospitality and 5am beer and hotpot breakfast provided by Justin + wildhomestay.cn . Big thanks also to Specialized for keeping me as warm and dry as I could be, the Roubaix tires were also a dream in the conditions!