Published: 04/07/2012 11:00 - Updated: 04/07/2012 09:14

Climbers in 24-hour 'Everest' fundraiser

Bob Kerr completing the 17th and final relay ascent of the peak.
Bob Kerr completing the 17th and final relay ascent of the peak.

A group of far north mountain rescue volunteers have climbed the equivalent height of Everest in an arduous 24-hour challenge to help raise money for the running of their organisation.

Twelve members of the Assynt Mountain Rescue team from throughout Caithness and Sutherland took part, including Bob Kerr, who is planning to make an attempt on the world’s highest peak next year.

The mountain chosen for the overnight fundraiser was the 764-metre Spidean Cóinich, one of three Corbetts of Quinag mountain, near Inchnadamph in north-west Sutherland.

To tot up the height of Everest, they had to make 17 ascents, meaning the mountain had to be climbed once every hour-and-an-half or so.

The relay challenge was timed close to the longest day of the year to minimise the amount of time the team would be out in the darkness.

As soon as the first two reached the summit, they radioed down and the next pair would commence up the mountain.

For safety reasons, the majority of the ascents were done in pairs though team training officer Charlie Macleod and Bob, both highly experienced climbers, did a couple of solo ascents during the night in poor weather conditions to give their colleagues a chance to rest or sleep.

While most would find the challenge immensely stamina-sapping, Bob used it as useful preparation for his climb of 8848-metre high Everest, for which he has still to firm up funding.

He said: "For Everest, physical fitness is really important in making a successful attempt on the world’s highest peak.

"An Everest summit day is a very long and taxing one.

"A typical summit day may be started from high camp following little sleep the night before, then you have to keep going for perhaps 18 hours or so.

"This challenge has set me in good stead for the real thing next year."

Bob had the privilege of making the 17th and last ascent up Spidean Cóinich to ensure the team completed the challenge within the allotted 24 hours.

The average ascent was completed in 79 minutes, with the fastest done in 49 minutes.

Over the piece, the team members walked over 120 miles and scaled over 10 vertical miles.

Charlie said: "I am extremely proud of everyone for digging deep and working hard together to complete this challenge.

"At times I didn’t think that we could do it but it was great to see the challenge completed and raise much-needed funds for the team."

The team relies entirely on volunteers to provide a 24/7 search and rescue service in the far north.

It raises the majority of its

own funds, with the challenge having boosted its coffers by over £1500.

The money is earmarked to help replace ageing life-saving equipment.

People can still make a donation by logging on to www.justgiving.com/assyntofeverest

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