The Extreme Everest Challenge is a test of the human spirit.
The event, now in its third year, puts competitors head to head with only themselves, to see if they have what it takes to go up and down Hudson Bay Mountain 18 times to cumulatively reach the equivalent elevation to the summit of Mt. Everest — 8,850 metres.
This year’s event starts at noon on March 8 and runs for 24 hours. It’s a fundraiser for the Live it! Love it! Foundation.
Dave Walter, owner of Valhalla Pure Outfitters, began organizing the Everest Challenge in 2009. Originally, competitors would complete 18 runs from the Skyline Chair, achieving the total vertical of Mt. Everest. About half of those who entered successfully completed the challenge.
The extreme aspect of the challenge came about after Smithers resident Dr. Rod Leighton wanted to see if he could skin up and ski down that same height, using his own power. It took him 25 hours to complete the challenge.
“We created the event to expand on Rod’s incredible accomplishment,” Walter said.
The event is now a tribute to Dr. Leighton, who only five months after completing the inaugural Extreme Everest Challenge, was injured while mountain biking and is now a quadriplegic.
In 2013, Dr. Leighton completed an incredible distance of 460 metres. This year, he is looking to improve on that total.
The benefactor was chosen to honour Dr. Leighton and to inspire others with disabilities to continue to seek adventure and challenge themselves to push their abilities, Walter said.
“Rod’s personal achievement and tenacity has continued to serve as a source of inspiration and a catalyst for event participants,” he said. “This event is for everyone. From the most extreme and hardcore mountain enthusiasts to the weekend warrior seeking a new outdoor challenge with a team of friends.”
The Live it! Love it! Foundation aims to promote the progression of adaptive adventure and provide outdoor recreation opportunities for disabled people. It was started by Jeff Scott, who grew up in Burns Lake. Scott was injured in a snowboard accident in 2010 and is now a paraplegic. He now lives in Victoria but still comes to Hudson Bay Mountain in the winter, to tear down the slopes on his sit-ski.
“The recovery process is still going on for sure, it’s not as intense as that first year in and out of the hospital, or as fast of progressions but I’m still making gains,” Scott said. “I love getting back to the mountains. I’m not to the level where I’m independent on the hill, but I still get some pretty incredible riding in.”
Participants will not get lonely — the Backdoor Lodge, Marmot Mansion and Everest base camp have space to rest, stock up on food and drink and listen to music throughout the night.
Walter has competed as a member of a three-person team in the past and said there’s nothing like spending an evening outside on Hudson Bay Mountain.
“Last year, in the early morning, the northern lights were in full force and most people’s lap times slowed as they stopped to watch them,” he said.
The event is open to individual and team relay participation and this year, there is no limit to the number of team members. Children 12 to 17 are allowed but must be accompanied by an adult.
The fee for this year’s event is $75 per person.
All money raised from the event goes to the Live it! Love it! Foundation.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Dave Walter at 250-847-0200. To register, go to www.extremeeverestchallenge.com.