The Longest Climb - Part 1

Photo courtesy of

Tom Lancaster. Photo courtesy of

This is something extraordinary. This is, you might say, impossible. This is something that has never been done before. 

This is an attempt to set a new world record. An attempt to raise £10,000 for three charities: Amnesty International, Heart UK, Mountain Rescue England and Wales.

This is two guys, Tom Lancaster and Jonathan Briggs, attempting to climb the height of Mount Everest, 8,848 meters (or 29,029 feet), in one stretch, on an indoor climbing wall. This equates to 738 times up the 12 meter wall. 

On June 25th, 2010, Jonny Briggs and I will start a race that has never been raced before, at the Westway Climbing Centre in London, England. After our first training session on Thursday, the seriousness of our undertaking has started to hit home. Some facts: 

In 2 hours we climbed a total of 228 meters, between us. That equates to 2.6% of what we have to climb in one go, each, at 1.9m per minute. At that rate it will take us just over 77 and a half hours to complete the climb if we have no breaks. But of course all of that is nonsense. What is a much better indicator of where we're at is that we climbed the wall where we will actually do the climb on the day 5 times each back to back, under the timer. The results were pretty much as I imagined them to be. 

Jonny is a lot fitter than I am, having recently run the London Marathon and generally keeping himself in far better shape than old lardy layabout I write I am waiting for my tesco's finest paella for two to cool down so I can scoff the lot, much as I did last night after coming home from the pub...whereas I have been climbing for a good 8 years longer than he has. So to put this into real terms, Jonny completed his set of five climbs up the wall in a little over 8 minutes, which translates to 19.5 hours. I did the 5 in 4.24, or just over 11 hours for the whole distance. 

The trouble is, he finished and the first thing he said was "I could have carried on," whereas the first thing I said was F*%@ me I'm going to die!" So the interesting thing for me is whether my stamina will improve faster than his climbing technique, because that is what it is going to come down to on the day. My stamina, his technique. Right now, I'd say he has the edge. 

Jonathan Briggs. Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

I'm excited about this project for many reasons. Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, is the fact that it has never been done before, that one of us will walk away from this with a world record, even if it takes us three weeks to actually do it. Secondly, we're aiming to raise a shedload of cash for three different charities: Amnesty international, Heart UK, and Mountain Rescue. We've set the bar at £10,000 for each of the three but I'd like to see it get higher than that. We're aiming to make a real difference here. Thirdly, I'm excited by the competition, and by how it will test and hopefully strengthen my friendship with Jonny, how we will cope with the lows of the training process knowing that if we're not on top of our game then we walk away with nothing but memories. And finally, I'm excited about getting properly into shape. It's been too long. 

We’ll be writing to you every month, and from next month there will be video to accompany the text. In between, you can follow what we’re up to on twitter and facebook, just search for thelongestclimb, and on our website, You can find links to donate on our facebook page, and shortly on our website. I hope you enjoy our journey as much as we will, and we’d love to hear from you. We’ll be at the westway every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, if you see us come and say hello! 

Until the next episode, 

The Longest Climber

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Thanks to the Westway Climbing Centre and to all for your support and generosity; £100 raised in first 3 days!


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