In the world of high altitude mountaineering, there are few challenges bigger than Mt. Everest. Standing 29,029 feet in height, it is the tallest peak on the planet, remaining unclimbed until 1953 when Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay finally reached the summit. Since then, literally hundreds of climbers have stood on top of the mountain, but not a single mountain biker has ever managed to conquer it. One man hopes to change all that this year.
Bob “Gnarly” Goldstein has been riding mountain bikes for years. The 45-year old copier salesman from Topeka, Kansas says he just prefers them over other kinds of bikes, saying they are simply more comfortable to ride and “they can go anywhere!” Bob has taken his trusty Huffy Cyclone on a number of local trails and on vacation with him to Colorado, where it not only helped him to get around Boulder, but allowed him to enjoy the mountain scenery as well. Soon, he’ll turn his sights on the biggest mountain of them all.
With April now upon us, mountaineers and trekkers are descending on the capital of Nepal –Kathmandu. The city is the last stop before heading into the Himalaya and Bob, and his trusty bike arrived there just yesterday. Soon he’ll begin his tune-up ride to Everest Base Camp, located at 17,600 feet. Once there, the real challenge will begin, as he intends to pedal all the way to the summit.
Goldstein knows that his task won’t be an easy one. He’ll have to navigate through the dreaded Khumbu Icefall, riding his Huffy across ladders precariously placed over crevasses in the glacier. Once on the other side, he’ll start the long, slow, grueling climb up the South Col and eventually to the top. “I’m pretty sure I’ll only be using the first three gears,” he says.While most climbers carry backpacks stuffed with layers of warm clothing, crampons, carabiners, and other climbing gear, Bob will have a few other items in his pack. He’ll be carrying spare inner tubes, a small tire pump, and special tools for changing a flat on the slopes. When asked by an incredulous Sherpa where he intended to carry his oxygen bottles, Goldstein replied “Duh! I have two bottle cages right on my bike dude!”
Bob says that he has been training his whole life for this opportunity. He regularly tackles some of the bigger hills in his home town, and his recent rides have gotten him off the pavement and onto the dirt trails as well. He’s even been practicing changing flat tires as quickly as possible, as the biting winds and sub-zero temperatures on Everest can turn those kinds of activities into brutal endeavors. Goldstein says he has no intention of losing a finger or toe due to frostbite, brought on by fixing a flat.
And after he suffers through all the pain and challenges of getting to the summit, Bob will be in for the ride of his life. He says he’s looking forward to “bombing” back down the mountain, and “catching big air” off the Hillary Step. “Which reminds me,” he adds hesitantly, “I need to go check my breaks.”
Good luck Bob! We’re cheering for you.