Scientific study finds the ideal hill parameters for an Everesting attempt

The better the rider, the steeper the hill should be, essentially

(Image credit: Future)

There's nothing new about Everesting, the challenge of climbing the 8,848 metres that make up Mount Everest doing repeats on a single climb.

The official website of the challenge lists 24,120 people who have completed it, on a variety of different hills; the fastest according to its Hall of Fame is 6 hours 40 minutes, completed by Ronan McLaughlin, while other attempts last longer.

Now, a scientific study by Junhyeon Seo and Bart Raeymaekers in Scientific Reports has attempted to "methodically document and analyze the Everesting challenge based on experimental data".

The objective of their research was "to quantify and rank the relative importance of the parameters that determine the time to complete the Everesting challenge, based solely on publicly available data of previous attempts".

Seo and Raeymaekers argued that "power per unit body mass is the most important input attribute", which seems pretty straightforward - the more power that a rider can put down, the quicker they can complete the Everesting.

This is down to how fit, strong, and heavy the cyclist is. However, the next important "input attributes" are the total distance and the gradient of the hill. "The tradeoff between total distance and gradient of the hill is at the heart of the Everesting challenge," the authors wrote.

The pair concluded: "That the power per unit body mass of the cyclist and the tradeoff between the gradient of the hill and the distance are the most important considerations when attempting the Everesting challenge. 

"As such, elite cyclists best select a hill with gradient > 12%, whereas amateur and recreational cyclists best select a hill with gradient < 10% to minimize the time to complete the Everesting challenge."

Elite cyclists are defined by Seo and Raeymaekers as riders who can sustain 2.5–3.0 W/kg across the challenge.

"The ability of a cyclist to produce a high power per unit body mass allows them to select a steep hill for the Everesting challenge and, in turn, reduce the distance and time required to conquer 8848 m of elevation gain," the authors argued.

"Surprisingly, the number of hill repeats seems unimportant with respect to the time to complete the Everesting challenge, which contrasts theoretical analysis by others. Reducing the length of the segment increases the frequency but decreases the duration of the recovery periods throughout the ride, indicating that the increased frequency of recovery is offset by time loss during turning at the bottom and top of the hill."

It seems simple, but it turns out the choice of hill to cycle up for hours has a large bearing on the time it takes to complete the Everesting. Time to go clip in, I think.

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Adam Becket
Senior news and features writer

Adam is Cycling Weekly’s senior news and feature writer – his greatest love is road racing but as long as he is cycling on tarmac, he's happy. Before joining Cycling Weekly he spent two years writing for Procycling, where he interviewed riders and wrote about racing, speaking to people as varied as Demi Vollering to Philippe Gilbert. Before cycling took over his professional life, he covered ecclesiastical matters at the world’s largest Anglican newspaper and politics at Business Insider. Don't ask how that is related to cycling.