Everesting: a Hells 500 epic

It’s been nearly a year since the last Hells 500 epic, Crux and this year’s instalment lands this weekend. It’s called Everesting and it’s almost certainly the hardest Hells 500 epic yet.

And that’s no mean feat: in the past few years the Hells 500 crew has ridden 300km in a day with 5,000m of climbing, they’ve ridden 500km in two days with 10,000m of climbing and they’ve tackled all 7 Peaks in a then-record time of 34 hours. But this year’s epic is on another level.

Unlike previous editions of the epic, this year’s ride is a solo endeavour, with riders spread across Australia and beyond. The premise is reasonably simple: climb the equivalent of sea level to the summit of Mt. Everest (8,848m) in one ride, simply by doing repeats of a single hill.

Every rider must do a different climb because, in the spirit of the great mountaineers, the true glory belongs to the rider who becomes the first to “everest” a climb. That’s right, “to everest” is now a verb.

The 2014 Hells 500 epic was inspired by the efforts of George Mallory (himself the grandson of the legendary mountaineer of the same name) back in 1995 who rode Mt. Donna Buang an incredible eight times to complete the first Everest by bike most of us had ever heard of. You can read George’s terrific story of that ride here.

And then there was John van Seters, uncle of Hells 500 founder Andy van Bergen, who everested the 1 in 20 , notching up a lazy 9,110m of climbing in 430km. JVS’s mammoth ride was the catalyst behind Everesting as a concept and its berth as the next Hells 500 epic.

So this weekend, more than 50 hardened (and arguably foolish) souls will take to the hills to become the first to everest their climb of choice. Some riders are doing the epic mountains we’ve all come to know and love — Mt. Hotham, Mt. Buffalo and so on — others are taking on mere bumps in the landscape, including suburban streets.

Choosing a climb is part of the challenge. Pick something steep and you’ll be done quicker, but you risk blowing out your knees. Pick something with a more reasonable gradient and your knees will be fine but you risk having to ride 400km+ to accumulate the required elevation.

And then there’s the question of length — do you go for something longer that requires fewer repeats, knowing that it will take a long time to tick off each lap? Or do you go for something shorter, knowing that you’re in for dozens of laps (if not more)?

Me? I’m not fit (or foolish) enough to take on this challenge at this point, but I’ll be watching with interest as dozens of riders try to create a spot for themselves in recreational cycling folklore. You can check on the riders’ progress too by following the #everesting hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. I’ll catch up with some of the riders after their attempt and report back here.

Good luck to everyone that’s taking on their own private Everest this weekend and to everyone else, check out the snazzy new Everesting website, which includes a Hall of Fame listing riders that have already everested a climb (or three).

More from The Climbing Cyclist

32 Replies to “Everesting: a Hells 500 epic”

  1. Is there any list of some of the attempts so those of us who are not everest fit (the unworthy) can ride a few repeats and support, encourage and bask in the glow of the worthy.

  2. Wonder what it would take to everest your favorite Strava segment? This calculator uses the Strava API to crunch the numbers for an everest attempt on a given segment. Get other cool stats like power, calories, and more. Check it out!


  3. Hi folks,

    My name is Sian Gard and I present the ABC Gippsland Breakfast show. I was wondering if someone could get in contact about ‘Everesting’ want to find out when the next event is in Gippsland and possibly do an interview about it.

    My direct work email is gard.sian@abc.net.au and phone number is 5143 5510

    Kind Regards,


  4. No idea who first everested Mont Ventoux. However, there is a couple of 24Hr events at Mont Ventoux, Ventoux Masterseries and Les Cinglés du Mont Ventoux where riders choose any combination of the 3 paved routes up Ventoux. The record from Bedoin a climb of 1617m and the approach the Tour de France typically uses is 11 (Male) and 8 (Female).

    1. I was lucky enough to have done the Cingle (3 sides of Ventoux in a day) last time we were over there, and want to have a crack at the Bicinglette (Cingle x 2) next time. That totals 272km with 8886mts. An ‘Everest’, but technically, is it?
      It’s not done in a loop, but from the 3 different towns, but it IS the concept guys.same hill. I’m assuming the clarification will say.. because it’s not the SAME road it wouldn’t count.
      For the record, I’m gonna do it anyway regardless. 🙂

      Great concept guys.

      1. Sorry, keyboard malfunction in the middle sentence. Supposed to read.. Not done in a loop/3 different roads/but same mountain.

  5. Awesome response Andy -you’re a classy dude. Best of luck this weekend to you and all other Everesters (I see at least one already complete!). Great group, great concept, awesome inspiration. Now I’m thinking of my own for next year – maybe a dirt Everest?

  6. Cheekiness is a difficult tone of voice to convey, and certainly the use of “quotation marks” always make things more sinister then they appear.

    The concept of ‘Everesting’ was fueled by an addition to the ridiculously incredible feats of courage by mountaineers across the last couple of decades. I would never be able to foot myself, but I’ve always been inspired by those pioneers. Probably because these exploits need a point of difference to sell copies I have grown up on tales of firsts. First known summits, first without oxygen, first on new and harder routes – and it’s this romantic notion of planning for 5 years and hoping that someone doesn’t beat you to the punch that held such strong appeal.

    Personally, I think the sweetest thing about this challenge is the pioneering aspect – new frontiers. This concept was sent to 120 riders who qualified, and of the 60 or so to eventually get to this point we all managed to find unique and interesting routes. The appeal in my mind comes not in these early days, but down the track when somead bastard climbs Terry’s, or Burgandy, or Yarra.

    That said – Everesting is just a concept. It’s something that can evolve. As Scoota mentioned we’ve been chatting throughout the day about this. I 100% anyone that can climb that much. If I’m successful tomorrow will be my biggest climb too. It’s pretty easy to work in a section for all successful subsequent climbers, and I’ll be adding this one once the weekend is done and dusted, but I will unapologetically always have a soft spot for people who are keen to take things in different and new directions. That’s the whole point of our sport.

    For the record I would have been pretty pissed in Scoota’s position and I reckon he handled it really well!

    Now, stop reading (no offence Matt) and start daydreaming about which climb you will take on. You’ll know that you’ve hit the mark when you get a sick feeling in your stomach..

  7. Great build-up and reveal. I’m really looking forward to reading the stories from this coming weekend.

    I also reckon that 2nd and subsequent everestings of climbs should be recognised, but I acknowledge that this is not my game so I don’t get to make up the rules. The game as it stands is still a damn fine game.

  8. Jorrod – the rules do not allow loops “Rides are not to be loops – that’s for Sunday mornings (acceptable – a Yarra Street ‘loop’ which is essentially the only way back down to the bottom of the ride. Unacceptable – the Three Peaks loop).”

  9. Scoots – I think you have picked up on something there and may warrant clarification just to be sure 🙂 Best of luck with Buffalo by the way, many people I have spoken to think its almost the perfect climb to Everest.

    I do believe however the term/verb (now) ‘Everesting’ should be attributed to one climb hills only not loops or multiple hills in one ride. That’s just me though.

  10. “Every rider must do a different climb because, in the spirit of the great mountaineers, the true glory belongs to the rider who becomes the first to “everest” a climb. ”

    I disagree (like Scoota) – I would think the concept of ‘Everesting’ is in achieving the actual metres – as opposed to doing the task on a particular hillclimb.

    I can’t imagine the list of people who have EVER done an Everesting will be very big – perhaps set aside a ladder/table for “people who have done it” – and then a second one for “repeat offenders”.

    The PLACE where is has been achieved is almost irrelevant – I would think. Other than the Fastest time to do it – and shortest distance – they’re worth noting.

    I’m NEVER going to get close to it – but it’s an amazing list of people who will I’m sure. I’m aiming for a 10,000 feet day – 3000m will be over 1000m more than I’ve ever done – and that will be my own ‘personal’ Everest.

    People still climb Mt.Everest – it’s still an amazing achievement – as opposed to “copied a climb that someone else has done, that’s nice”…

  11. Just emailed to the Everesting crew but thought I’d post here too for the sake of public scrutiny:

    A handful of mates and I are Everesting Mt Buffalo in a few weekends time. We didn’t even know this had started as a thing, we were just doing it, because – well, you know why!

    I don’t agree with this rule:

    “Only the first Everesting ride for each climb will be added to the list. Copied a ride that someone else has done? That’s nice.”

    The second person to climb Mt Everest, still climbed Mt Everest. Just because someone did it before them, doesn’t take away from the work they did to complete the climb. I don’t think it’s right that anyone can basically call “dibs” on a particular and then everyone afterwards is ignored.

    Is this right? Or do I not understand the rules?

    If that’s what you’re suggesting – in about 1 month, every climb that can be Everested, will be and then this thing is done (and I think most will lose interest unless it’s all purely for self satisfaction).

    But then in the Hall Of Fame, you contradict yourselves with the “One Peak Bagged” board and say “Leaderboard of all riders to have completed an Everesting of a climb” in which two riders are listed for the same climb (and yes I am aware that these guys did it simultaneously).

    Please clear this up in the rules or at least start another leaderboard and give credit where credit is due to those Everesting, regardless of the fact that someone beat them to that particular climb in the world.

      1. No, to be clear – I’m saying that the rules and the Hall Of Fame page are contradicting one another.

        The rules suggest that if a rider Everests any climb, his efforts are *ignored* simply because someone else had Everested the same climb before he did. But then in the Hall of Fame page, we see 2 riders on the one climb.

        I am asking for clarification on that.

        My opinion is that there should be recognition for *anyone who Everests any climb, at any point*. Credit where credit is due, given the massive undertaking, and give them props accordingly. There simply just needs to be a leaderboard that shows everyone who actually completes the challenge.

        Because if it is *as per the rules* and person who follows another, apparently it counts for nothing? That doesn’t seem right to me. And you can guarantee that Everesting wouldn’t “take off” as a “thing” when people realise that “nobody cares” because *someone already did it*.

        I guess if someone walks on the moon next week, nobody would give a crap, because, meh, someone already did it.

      2. What’s interesting about your reply is that you refer to “an event”. I understand that 50 riders associated with Andy/Matt and Hells 500 are having a crack this weekend but if you actually read the Everesting web site – it really has nothing to do with this weekend specifically.

  12. This is, without doubt, the coolest challenge idea I have ever heard of! Over 50 people in one weekend! Hells 500 know how to do things right!

    Looking forward to seeing the craziest Everesting. My money is on the back of Donna, Terrys or Mast Gully, and if someone can pull off Baw Baw, well, tip of the hat to them!

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