The distance from the base of Mt. Everest to the peak is 30,000 feet.
It is still considered the Holy Grail of mountaineering, the climb that best tests physical and mental endurance.
Of course, not every one has the time or money for a trip to Nepal.
And so, three members of the Chilliwack Outdoor Club did the next best thing, Everest at Whistler.
“The longest blue/black run at Whistler Blackcomb is the Peak to Creek, which is 5,020 feet,” Ron Dart explained. “So we did it six times.”
Dart, John Laframboise and Jonathan Mitchell started out bright and early one morning in early March.
They took three lifts to the top and started down on their first run, ploughing through 60 to 70 kilometre per hour winds.
“The upper part is quite steep and the wind was blowing across us,” Dart said. “It was like skiing through a snow tunnel, with very lean visibility, before we got into the forested area.”
Peak to Creek shapes up in three stages — a waist-deep snow river at the top, a mogully middle and a flat finish. There are benches on the way down on the assumption that skiers will need a rest.
“Coming down the steep part, navigating so you don’t fly off somewhere, that’s tiring on the legs,” Dart said. “You’re moving at pace, weaving, twisting, bending. It’s quite a workout and it leaves your legs feeling like Jello.”
The men did four runs, covering 20,000 feet or 28 kilometres before finally taking a break.
“The blood sugar was getting low and we were perspiring quite a bit, so we grabbed a quick lunch,” Dart said. “We were all wobbly and weak after four runs, but it had to be a quick lunch so our muscles wouldn’t seize up on us.”
Then back up they went.
“It took about 12 or 13 minutes on each descent,” Dart said. “Most people stop five or six times on the way down because of leg burn, and most people are happy just doing that run once. Doing that six times, that’s not typical.”
The men finished up by 2:30 p.m., then paid for it the next day with legs that felt like tree trunks.
“It was challenging to the body, mind and imagination,” Dart said. “We wanted to try it and see if our legs could carry us, and we succeeded.”
And now, they move on to part two.
If all went as planned, the trio were back on the mountain today, doing Everest at Whistler on an even tougher Olympic run.
If you see any of them tomorrow, odds are they won’t be walking around too much.
The Chilliwack Outdoor Club has over 150 members from all parts of the Fraser Valley.
The club schedules a variety of activities including hiking and backpacking, technical climbing, cycling, kayaking and canoeing, downhill and cross country skiing and snow shoeing.
Fees are $35.00 per year, effective from the date of joining.
Find info at chilliwackoutdoorclub.com.