Cyclists to climb Mount Keira in 'Everesting' challenge

Illawarra cyclists Paul Burns, Jules Verheyen, Luke Meers and Chris Brown at the base of Mount Keira. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN
Illawarra cyclists Paul Burns, Jules Verheyen, Luke Meers and Chris Brown at the base of Mount Keira. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Mount Keira is a long way from Mount Everest and, at 464 metres above sea level, the Wollongong landmark is far short of Everest's 8848-metre elevation.

But, on Saturday, a group of keen Illawarra cyclists will climb the Wollongong landmark 22 times as part of an "Everesting" challenge.

The Everesting craze is the ultimate test for amateur cyclists who must make a minimum ascent of 8848 vertical metres in one continuous cycling effort on any mountain of their choice.

The founder of the concept was George Mallory who in 1994, Everested Victoria's Mount Donna Buang. Mallory is the grandson of the British mountaineer of the same name who many believe was the first to climb Mount Everest but never returned to tell the tale.

It's taken two decades but now the challenge has really taken off, mostly in Australia but there's also been successful Everesting attempts in England, New Zealand and the US.

Now, Illawarra cyclists hope to add the Mount Keira challenge to the tally board.

Co-organiser Luke Meers will be one of five cyclists who will take up the challenge on Saturday.

The group will make an early start, kicking off the challenge at 4.30am on Mount Keira Road outside Edmund Rice College.

"We will be riding up and down the mountain all day, although only the ascents count, and expect to be riding for more than 12 hours," Mr Meers said.

"Mount Keira has an elevation of 464 metres but, as we're not starting at sea level, and not going right to the peak, then each ascent will be about 400 metres so we have to do around 22 or 23 climbs.

"In September, the group of us have been challenging ourselves to see how many times we can go up and down Mount Keira - I've done it 57 times.

"But it's still going to be tough on the day and we will have to keep our food and fluids up to last the distance."

Mr Meers said the group was looking forward to the personal challenge, as well as raising awareness and funds for their two chosen charities.

All funds raised will go towards HeartKids NSW, which supports families with children with heart disease, and Arnhem Human Enterprise Development, which empowers indigenous communities in remote Australia.

"We are really excited to stretch ourselves to take part in the Everesting craze which has swept the nation, and gone global," he said.

"We are also excited to be doing something for two really great causes."

There's some lighter options too - participants can complete 14 ascents to replicate the height of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania; nine ascents for Mount Fuji, Japan, and five climbs for Mount Ventoux, France.

About 30 cyclists have signed up to take part in the challenge. Anyone interested in joining in, or donating, can visit the website mtkeirachallenge.com.