For one B.C. rider, an Everesting challenge was the perfect way to pay tribute to Kelly Blunden and Ross Chafe, who were killed just outside Whistler on May 31.
“I thought, ‘I’m gonna do it, and I’m gonna do it in memory of these guys,'” said Kristian Manietta, who completed the climb earlier this month. The road he took, in fact, was the same road that Blunden and Chafe were on when a driver crossed the centre line, fatally striking them both. Duffey Lake Road is a grinding uphill grade and a fast, precipitous descent, and riding the equivalent of Everest’s 8,848 metres required eight laps in either direction. Manietta tackled the Duffey Lake Road for his first ascent at 3:00 on the morning of his ride. By 6:30 p.m., he said — 236 total kilometres later — he was done.
The ride presented more than a few challenges, he said. Heat was one, particularly at the height of the day. Other obstacles on the way up, Manietta remembered, were considerably more painful.
“On the seventh lap, I got a couple of pretty crazy adductor cramps in the last few [kilometres],” Manietta told Whistler’s Pique News Magazine. “I had to get off the bike twice then got on and got that sorted. I got to the bottom and had some magnesium.” With so much of the gruelling ride behind him, the eighth and final climb, he added, was much easier.
The original idea was to do the Everesting ride in order to support those affected by the devastating Nepal earthquake of last April. When Chafe and Blunden were killed, though, his inspiration found itself a bit closer to home. Duffey Lake Road was first chosen because no attempts at Everesting its ascent had been made, Manietta explained. That it would soon prove to be the same road as the scene of the tragedy made the choice all the more meaningful.
“Passing their memorial every single time was sobering,” he recalled, “but at the same time, there’s no way the pains that I had in my legs would be anything like the pain that their families would be going through at their loss.”
“It made it very easy for me. I never thought of giving up.”