Head of Outdoor Education Paul Aitken explains the highs and lows of this magnificent challenge:
“The lads had intended to climb together as continuously as they could till they reached their target height. We estimated it would take them around 20 hours, so they started climbing at 6am. It became apparent pretty quickly that they were going to achieve their target as they were smashing out between them an average of 100 climbs (700 metres of climbing per hour). I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing as they just kept climbing despite obvious physical and mental fatigue! The support from other students and staff popping in and out of the Sports Hall drove them on, as well as a committed crew of students helping with belaying, feeding, watering and counting climbs.
Amazingly, after 11 hours of climbing, the lads achieved their goal. Between them they had climbed a total of 8848m. They finished tired but exuberant to a room full of cheers, 9 hours faster than I expected. Worn out with very bad blisters on his hands, Sam was done but Miles had other ideas. He had decided he wanted to keep climbing and attempt to complete the full height of Everest on his own.
Miles had already done 711 climbs over half the total amount but he still needed to complete 553!! After all the energy he’d expended so far, we quickly worked out even if he averaged 50 climbs per hour he would be climbing for another 11 hours but he was adamant he wanted to go for it!
It took him a while to get back into the rhythm but before long he was steadily climbing again. He was in a lot of pain with blistered hands and feet and achy muscles but with the support of his family and friends he just kept going; only once in the entire time did he doubt himself and say he couldn’t do it!
For me the most impressive part of the day was the last 4 hours of the climb. Miles had become completely absorbed by linking one move after the other and had little interest in anything else around him. He only had one thing in mind- the ultimate goal. Phenomenally he averaged 100 climbs per hour for the last 4 hours (that is 700m of vertical ascent per hour!) He summited the equivalent height of Mount Everest in 18hours and 12 minutes!
Sam and Miles were both outstanding and have hopefully raised a significant amount of money for the development of our wonderful Outdoor Education Department. They proved to themselves and many others that effort is the greatest reward of all!!
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Head of Outdoor Education