Climb for Nepal wrap-up: tired legs turn into helping hands

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The Climb for Nepal, where riders were asked to raise money while ascending the height of Mt Everest in June, has finished but the task is far from over. It was a great Strava challenge to spur on those climbing metres and take your riding to a higher level but it was so much bigger than just a riding challenge. This challenge was about climbing for a cause. You couldn’t whine about how hard it was to tackle that hill once more to hit the Climb for Nepal target when at the end of the ride, you had a home with food, water and a warm bed to go to. So now that the climbing is over, the real work begins as the money starts providing a helping hand to the people of the earthquake devastated region of Nepal.

Around the globe, 38,000 riders completed the Climb for Nepal by ascending at least 8,848 meters in June. Many raised funds along the way so that tens of thousands of dollars can now provide some relief to the survivors of the devastating earthquake in the mountainous nation.

“It will have a significant impact, not just on individuals, not just on families but on entire villages. We did that as a cycling community just by going and riding our bike up and down a hill and doing what we are passionate about,” said Andy van Bergen, who initiated the Climb for Nepal and is also the brains behind the vertical challenge of Everesting.

Van Bergen recognizes that the initial fundraising target at US$1 million (AUD$1.35 million) was extremely ambitious, but what would you expect from someone who thinks riding 8,848 metres on a bike in one go is a good idea? Unfortunately, the Climb for Nepal challenge –a collaboration between Everesting, More than Sport and Strava -didn’t reach those lofty heights. Still, it is hard to be disappointed with a total of over US$80,000 and counting, when you realise it can provide around 16,000 people with clean water, three months of food for nearly 90 people, emergency shelter for hundreds, and three months of emergency medical treatment for 8,000 people.

Remembering what suffering really is

The death toll for the earthquake on April 25 and subsequent aftershocks has reached almost 9,000, while more than 22,000 have been injured and hundreds of thousands of homes were destroyed.

“In Australia people were riding in the cold and wet but that’s nothing compared to losing everything you own and having your entire village decimated,” said van Bergen, who is also the business development manager at CyclingTips. “For a lot of people it really provided some perspective. It reminds you what suffering really is.”

Van Bergen not only initiated the Climb for Nepal, but also personally raised thousands as he completed the challenge with an Everesting and took on the associated running challenge, which required 2,212 metres of ascent.

There was no question at Ella that we should throw ourselves behind this, both with our writing and with our legs. Of course we wanted to support the effort by our colleague to do something so ambitiously generous, but being able to make a contribution that helped the people of Nepal was also personal for us.

Ella co-editor Anne-Marije Rook made trek up Everest Base Camp just last year, and I visited Nepal in 1998 and will forever remember the generosity of the Nepalese amid a hasty retreat to get my altitude sickness afflicted travelling companion down to a safe height.

Rook, based in the United States, climbed in the early summer heat to hit nearly double the Climb for Nepal target with over 16,500 metres of elevation in June. Meanwhile, I was happy with a more modest total of over 9,000 metres in the chilly short days of winter riding in Melbourne.

Around the globe, 7,000 women joined us in participating in the challenge, nearly 2,000 of whom completed the 8,848 metres of climbing. While most took the entire month to accumulate the metres, around 160 people did it all in one go as part of  an Everesting, which is an extreme vertical challenge where the target is to climb the height of Mt Everest in one continuous effort on one climb. In just one month the total of successful Everestings increased by around a third. Among them was a Melbourne group of women who started riding in sub-zero temperatures to take on a fundraising Everesting at the toughest riding time of the year, right around the winter solstice. There was also a Canberra crew, who again battled a cold short day, and were buoyed by the climbing camaraderie of a women’s development and race team who took on the challenge as a relay in support.

Hail and ice on Sani Pass

Then, to wrap up the challenge, there was one of the most spectacular Everestings you could hope to see: the climb of Sani Pass in South Africa.

Jeannie Dreyer and her husband Martin Dreyer joined Kevin Benkenstein to take on the iconic dirt and gravel climb on the last weekend of June. The trio faced the most difficult of weather conditions on a tough and perilous climb as they battled on through the wind, rain and hail on icy roads.

The conditions took their toll, forcing Benkenstein to pull out, but the Dreyers battled on. It was a nail-biting effort as the parents of two young children slogged on through the night. After more than 30 hours they completed the 8,848 metres of climbing, ascending the notoriously challenging Sani Pass 10 times.

Thank you

To all those who supported the Climb for Nepal by putting their legs into the cause or their hands in their pockets, thank you. We appreciate you joining us for the ride.

Donations are still open. It’s not too late to give to the Climb for Nepal or donate to the Climb for Nepal’s Sani Pass Everesting.

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