For most mountaineers, reaching the summit of Mt Everest is the crowning moment that comes from years of training, medical checks and a treacherous and dangerous climb. It’s an achievement generally reserved for a handful of the world’s elite climbers. And then there’s Charlie Harbord and Harry Richards – two London housemates that scaled the summit while under lockdown in London.
Whether it was cabin fever or a curiosity to see how much their bodies could endure, the two decided to set themselves a challenge: climb the equivalent height of Mt Everest using the staircase in their home. That’s 8,848 metres.
“We both really enjoy taking on physical challenges where we can push ourselves to the limit and that’s where this idea was kind of born. We thought it was a good idea at the time. But we soon realised it was a lot bigger task than we thought,” Richards told Euronews.
They commenced their climb from ‘base camp’ at 8 p.m., climbed all night and reached the ‘summit’ at 7 p.m. the following day. 23 hours of ascending the timber staircase of their suburban maisonette. The longest break they took was 15 minutes – just enough time for a quick refuel of carbohydrates and water. Or in the case of Richards, the strapping his struggling knees with ice-packs.
The burning question for most people when they learned of the boys’ at-home adventure is ‘why’?
“With so many of the days rolling into one another, it’s quite nice, to have something to look forward to, whether that’s an endurance challenge or some other form of activity that sort of breaks it up and also you get a huge sense of achievement from it,” said Harbord.
“There is a bit of boredom. There’s not much to do. We can’t out and exercise like we normally would so this gives us something else to focus on and it’s awesome, we love it,” said Richards.
The pair tied their endurance challenge to fundraising efforts – encouraging online supporters to donate money to Britain’s National Health Service. In the end, they raised over €8,500 for the frontline health workers.
“We got a massive sense of achievement from everyone behind it supporting us. It’s been incredible. It’s driven us on to do more. It’s awesome. We love it,” said Richards.