Up Mt Kaukau with a ladder – no excuses

“From time to time, something will come up that aligns with your values so much, that it’s impossible to ignore,” says Iain Richardson, one of more than 110 Kiwis who took on the first-ever Himalayan Trust Summit Challenge in 2018 to climb the height of Mt Everest in a month and raise funds for the people of Nepal.

Iain had just signed up for a trek of a lifetime to Everest Base Camp when he heard about the Summit Challenge. “Between the awesome work the Himalayan Trust is doing in the Everest region, and what I needed to do to prepare for the Everest Base Camp trek, it was impossible for me to turn this challenge down.”

Summit Challenge participants can take on the challenge anywhere and have the whole month to hike, bike, run or climb up 8848m, the height of Everest. That’s an average elevation of 295m every day.  All the funds raised help continue the life-changing work of Sir Edmund Hillary’s Himalayan Trust in the Everest region of Nepal, still one of the poorest countries in the world.

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“I wasn’t sure how I would fit the Summit Challenge around everyday life,” says Iain. “But it seemed to come on nicely just by holding myself to one simple rule – no excuses.”

Iain climbed peaks in the Tararua ranges, including Mt Jumbo, Mt Holdsworth and a climb up to Kime Hut. Most of his elevation though, came from climbing up Wellington’s Mt Kaukau 15 times.

“I made a stupid decision that I wanted to finish the challenge on top of Mt Kaukau, and on exactly 8848m.”

“But my final climb was going to leave me two metres short. So I decided to make Mt Kaukau two metres taller. The easiest way to make something taller? A ladder. Carried up from the bottom and placed at the top, giving me my final two metres. Perfect.”

During last year’s Summit Challenge, people took to the mountains all around New Zealand – from climbing all the maunga in Auckland, to running and biking up the Port Hills, to tramping in the Remarkables. One expat Kiwi chose to ski up 8848m in British Columbia, Canada.

In total, the event raised over $55,000 to provide education, healthcare and safe water for remote communities in the Himalayas.

Mountaineer Jonathan Hattrell took on the peaks in Otago and Southland to complete his Summit Challenge.

“The highlight for me was climbing Mt Ollivier, which was the first peak in the Aoraki Mt Cook region that Sir Ed climbed as a young man,” said Jonathan. “I was stoked to take part and it was a cool way to motivate myself to keep active during the month.”

Jonathan is now looking ahead to the Summit Challenge 2019 in March: “I’m toying with a few new ideas for this year to keep myself challenged”.

The Summit Challenge 2019 in March will be part of a series of celebrations taking place across New Zealand to mark 100 years since the birth of Sir Edmund Hillary. The Himalayan Trust hopes the event will be even bigger this year as a fitting celebration for the centenary of New Zealand’s greatest adventurer.

Iain recently returned from his trek through the Everest region, where he had a chance to visit the first school built by Sir Ed Hillary in the remote village of Khumjung and see first-hand some of the Himalayan Trust’s work – work he helped make possible through the Summit Challenge.

“I got home to Wellington and the sun was still up, so I did the only logical thing – I climbed up Mt Kaukau.”

Could you climb the height of Everest in March 2019? Help celebrate the centenary of Sir Edmund Hillary and join the Himalayan Trust Summit Challenge today at summitchallenge.org

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