Man Who Was Supposed to Climb Mount Everest Hikes Distance on His Apartment Stairs Instead


A London man couldn't climb Mount Everest as planned due to the coronavirus pandemic, so he got creative and found a way to "hike" the world's highest mountain from the safety of his own home.

After Rob Ferguson's trip to the 29,035-foot mountain was postponed, the 51-year-old decided to follow through with his plans by climbing an equivalent distance on the stairs in his apartment building instead, according to USA Today.

Using a half-flight of stairs leading to the second floor in his building on April 9, Ferguson climbed up and down 6,506 times, over the course of 24 hours and 30 minutes, to complete the length of the hike, the outlet reported.

"Sometimes the end task can seem insurmountable, but for this it was a similar approach – but literally taking it one step at a time," the photographer and writer/fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, told USA Today after completing the climb.

The at-home journey, which Ferguson documented on Zoom, came about a month after Nepal announced that it was closing all Mount Everest climbing expeditions for the rest of the year amid the pandemic, according to CNN.

Ferguson said the makeshift climb was a way for him to promote social distancing and stay-at-home orders, while also raising money for healthcare workers — a group of people he said served as motivation when it became difficult to carry on.

"Medical professionals don't have the option to stop and quit," Ferguson explained to USA Today. "Every expedition I've been on, no matter how difficult, I had the option to quit. Nobody is saying you've got to carry on."

"But emergency workers are physically exhausted and mentally drained. They don't say, 'That's it, I'm done.' They don't have that choice," he continued. "So I kept telling myself, they are the reason I'm doing this. And I thought of my family and community rooting for me. You're never truly alone."

Though Ferguson wasn't risking a shortage of oxygen, frigid and snowy temperatures and possible avalanches, he found himself facing other challenges along the way, including being alone and climbing barefoot.

The choice to go shoeless was made by Ferguson toward the end of his climb in an effort not to disturb his neighbors as they slept during the late-night and early morning hours, according to USA Today.

"I had quite a few blisters," he recalled to the outlet.

Ferguson's companion, Jenny Wordsworth — a veteran climber who was supposed to join him on the two-week Tenzing Everest Challenge hike — also dropped out of their virtual climb with only a few hours left, unable to go any longer due to an Achilles injury, USA Today reported.

"That's when your mind starts to justify quitting and rewrite the narrative when you're left to our own devices," explained Ferguson, who has recently been volunteering for the National Health Service. "With four to five hours to go, all by myself, I definitely thought of stopping early."

"Working for NHS you get to see a lot of what people are doing on the front line," he continued to the outlet. "So it kind of smacks home a little bit. When you're doing something hard, it's always subjective. Hard compared to what? Well, I found something to go up against what I was dealing with."

In addition to thinking about the essential workers, Ferguson said his neighbors also unknowingly provided encouragement during his moments of doubt.

During his walks up and down, he'd pass a picture of a rainbow, drawn by a younger girl in the apartment building. Though it wasn't the same as the breathtaking views he would've witnessed in person, Ferguson said it motivated him to not give up.

"The views certainly weren't as nice as Nepal," he joked to USA Today. "The view did not change the whole climb, but I found inspiration from unique places."

Other than stopping for brief hydration and snack breaks every 50 to 100 flights of stairs, Ferguson climbed for a day straight, officially completing his journey around 7:45 a.m. on April 10.

He said he hopes his experience will encourage others to try stair-climbing during the pandemic, though he emphasizes the importance of making it fun and purposeful.

"The important thing for people who want to try stairs for a workout, if they have a purpose for a charity, is that they make it achievable," he told USA Today. "If you're really doing it for your own physical fitness, to help during the social isolation period, don't put too much pressure on it and have fun. It's all about pacing."

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