By MORE Than Sport
Posted in More Than Sport, on July 07, 2015
Even though the event has concluded, more personal stories keep coming in from the Climb for Nepal campaign – people certainly went the extra mile in an effort to do more and make a long lasting impact to those in need. What starts as a very individual and personal quest to conquer the distance + climb quickly becomes as many have found an outlet for new friendships and new limits as Daniel Fighera found out.
Everesting is one of those things that sounds stupid on paper but kinda doable in theory. The vertical metres climbed is no easy feat but there’s a few things in your favour. You can do it at your own pace, over as many hours as you wish, with all the supplies one can consume and the encouragement one can muster. But it is first and foremost a mental game. I hadn’t worked this out during my first failed attempt at Greenhill Road but my second successful attempt of the famed Old Willunga Hill. Both attempts I’d been pretty fit but the second I’d come to the understanding that the body gets to a point where it eventually gives up on physical reminders to go home and it was just a stay out there ‘mental battle’. I had completed the challenge and was pretty much over the idea of trying it again.
That was until Andy, chief enforcer of pain at Hells 500 announced that there’d be a far more amazing challenge on the cards for the month of June in a ‘let’s help some people out’ sense. This certainly tickled my fancy and it’d been a while since I’d personally raised some money. He was asking for our help, passing the baton onto us to raise some awareness and serious cash for the people of Nepal with the #climbfornepal appeal.
I had completed the challenge and was pretty much over the idea of trying it again.
I wanted to go all out on this challenge but physically, I was in poor shape. The summer comedown is something that seems to hit me every year and it’d been a quiet last few months on the bike as the cold wet winter started to kick into gear. But the challenge was set; could I raise a heap of money and everest on bugger all training? I felt the best way to do this was to primarily ask for people to donate a monetary amount for every metre I climbed. This would at least serve as a driver when the doubts would set in and I could show I was willing to earn the donations rather than just asking for them. Prior to the day I had almost 60cents pledged for every metre climbed and over $1000 in arbitrary donations. The stage was set.
I got rolling on the 19th of June at 3.15am. A bit colder than expected but car was loaded with supplies and I had three ascents done before I was joined by the legend that is Dave Edwards. This guy two weeks prior had done 454 laps of Jollimont Tce in Melbourne on an 18kg bike share bike to complete his #climbfornepal everesting but then also completed the Cairns Ironman last week and here he was, sherpa’ing for me a week later in the early hours of the morning.
Rob, Shane, James, Paul, Pete, Wayne, Waldo and Teddles joined soon there after and by 7.45am, the first (and easiest) quarter was done and approximately $2,250 in the bank. It had begun to drizzle around sunrise, drizzle became rain and it got wet pretty quickly. A 22 hour ride in wet kit, soaked shoes, with a daily top of 13 degrees is not ideal. Being a weekday, my sherpas were now heading off to work and I was alone to roll them out.
Enter the second quarter, when your brain starts saying “hey, you’ve done your climbing now, lets go home” and the rain was clouding my thoughts. My front brake was pulsing on the descents and the rear derailleur wasn’t aligning with the granny gear. Doubts started to creep in. Then, complete in fiasco pixel kit and the athletic socks, Lorraine appeared. Together we rolled a number of laps on the wet roads and her being there enabled me to dry my clothes and stop for nature breaks whilst minding my stuff until the rain cleared and roads dried out, as well as returning later in the day with a bag of goodies. Champion.
Your brain starts saying “hey, you’ve done your climbing now, let’s go home”
I soon realised the phaffing about due to the rain had put me behind schedule, I was feeling a bit tired and still well short of half way. Torsten visited with a bag of bananas and my Dad showed up at lunch. He claimed he had been told I was everesting Old Willunga Hill, so he ventured all the way down south to support me but alas no ‘everester’ in sight. After inquiring with staff at the local council office about a ‘bike race’ (to which they obviously had no knowledge of) he made a few calls and soon found me on Glynburn Road. His visit was great for two reasons; he bought me a sandwich for lunch, a nice detour from all the sugary supplies I had in the car but also the laugh that came with the story.
After a mild panic attack from losing but then finding my car key after it fell out of my pocket during a descent, I hit half way and was starting to feel better. I had visits from Adam and Ben and Felicity and the sun was out but I was slowing and completing the third quarter was a long way off still.
I was joined in the late afternoon by Nathan and Dirk, two guys I’d never met before but were there to roll laps with me as well as my partner Sky and her sister Clare now heading up support back at the car. My good friend James brought the bmx flavour complete with rubber burning foot braking descents.
Before long, the post work crowd, both on the bike and on the sidelines, had arrived; Brett and Elizabeth, Paul, Penny and Blair, Jo and Ben, David, Rupert, Graeme, Tony, Jacob, Mum and Dad, Mikael, Cecilia and Hamish. There were cheers after each lap; a bit embarrassing but appreciated as that was another $77 in the kitty. The third quarter was done and money raised was sitting just under $5,000 but I felt like I was now done mentally and physically. It’s so hard to describe how dark a place I was in at this point. The waves of tiredness and drive are an odd phenomenon. It was 9pm and a 1.30am finish time was likely.
I felt like I was now done mentally and physically. It’s so hard to describe how dark a place I was in at this point.
After a longish break to compose my thoughts, with 1800m still to climb, I decided I was going to finish this and make every metre count. I actually asked Teddles and Dave, who were there till the end, to zip it for ten laps, as the act of talking was too much at the time. But they and Sky stuck with me to the end, lap after lap in the cold dark night until I finished on 8866 vertical metres. The projected 110 repeats was well short of 120 required to complete the everesting. I’d never been so happy to jump off a bike, fanatical, drained with thoughts of a warm shower and crawling into a bed and sleeping forever.
The thing about this though was at least I had shelter to go to. At least I had clean water to drink. At least my life has not been turned outside down by a catastrophic event. At least I had all the support I needed… thousands of people in Nepal do not have these things right now and that is what this was about. All up, we will raise $7,700AUD – well beyond my wildest expectations and in a word, incredible.
The thing about this though was at least I had shelter to go to. At least I had clean water to drink. At least my life has not been turned outside down by a catastrophic event. At least I had all the support I needed.
Now I am passing the baton to the More Than Sport crew to make each dollar count and use this money to help a country and its people back on their feet. I have no doubt they’ll deliver.
See more snaps from Dan’s everesting on his instagram
You can still support Dan’s efforts here
View Dan’s Strava profile here