Extreme unicycling on Mount EverestSeptember 20, 2008
We’ve written about unicycling before as an extreme sport on its own and shown videos of how the art should be practiced but when you combine unicycling with Mount Everest, at the same time, surely you must be talking of an extreme extreme. Would you not agree? Either that or this guy should take a vacation in the nearest mental asylum – unicycling on Mount Everest? You gotta be kidding…….no, then read on.
It may be loved by clowns and jugglers, but the unicycle would hardly be the vehicle of choice for anyone tackling Mount Everest.
Except for extreme unicyclist Steve Colligan… who intends to do just that to get into the record books.
The father of two will have to overcome 5,000m (16,400ft) mountains, minus 15°C temperatures and negotiate the world’s largest downhill ride, all on one wheel.
His 1,000km (600-mile) ride across the roof of the world will take him along the backbone of the Himalayas from Lhasa in Tibet to Kathmandu in Nepal, via Everest base camp.
Mr Colligan, who has been unicycling for eight years, has specialised in mountain unicycling – muni to aficionados – for six years.
He has ridden down Snowdon five times, Scafell Pike in the Lake District twice and Ben Nevis (twice off-road) and along the Great Wall of China. But he describes this 25-day trip as ‘my biggest challenge yet’.
Mr Colligan said: ‘This will be 1,000km of unicycling across five mountain passes over 5,000m high, with the biggest decent in the world, at 4,600m. The route will go via Everest base camp on the Tibetan side.
‘Most the riding will be dirt roads, so I’m taking my distance unicycle, fitted with an off-road tyre.
‘The second part of my trip to the Himalayas will be riding down many 5,000m peaks in Nepal.’
The 47-year-old, from Manchester, is undertaking the feat next week to raise money to build a school in Nepal.
He added: ‘This is going to be an extreme ride, but what an experience it will be.’ To follow his progress see www.unicyclesteve.com
You know you’ve got to admire the guy – not only is this one of the craziest extreme sporting challenges that we have come across and so one can but imagine the self esteem that he will engender if he is successful – he certainly won’t be lost for a story at his next dinner party or when his grandson asks him ‘What did you do Grandad?’ – but the fact is that this extreme will raise money for the building of a school in a place where education is badly needed, and the resources to educate are even scarcer.
Here are some facts that I picked up from Wikipedia: the national literacy rate for those over 15 was reported to be 48.2% (female: 34.6%, male: 62.2%) in the Population Census of 2001, up from about 5% in 1952/54, schooling for the general population only began in 1951 – before that it had been reserved for the ruling classes.
Wikipedia goes on to say: ‘Despite examples of success, there are still many problems and challenges. Educational management, quality, relevance, access are some of the critical issues of education in Nepal. Societal disparities based on gender, ethnicity, location, economic class, etc. are yet to be eliminated. Resource crunch has always been a problem in education. These problems have made the goal of education for all a challenge for the country.’
So good luck Steve – we hope you raise a lot of money and have a great trip – we look forward to keeping tags on your progress.
Thanks to Jo Steele of the Metro.co.uk for this article.