If you’ve never heard of Everesting, don’t worry. We can explain. And we swear, it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Maybe.

In cycling, “Everesting” is when a rider sets out to climb a total of 29,032 feet—the elevation of Mount Everest—over the course of a single ride. Yup, just one ride.

The first recorded Everesting attempt that was completed successfully is credited to George Mallory in 1994 (fun fact: the cycling George Mallory is actually the grandson of Everest mountaineer George Mallory). However, it was during the COVID-19 pandemic that Everesting really became “a thing.” People started setting records. Other people started breaking them. Even Mark Cavendish started Everesting. It was a crazy time.

More From Bicycling
preview for HDM All Sections Playlist - Bicycling

While the answer to “but, why?” is probably different for every person who goes after the Everesting challenge, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that researchers have now quantified the best way to do it.

In a study recently published in Nature, researchers Junhyeon Seo & Bart Raeymaekers realized that completing a successful Everesting attempt comes down to several factors, with the rider’s fitness and experience being the most important. But they found that fitness alone doesn’t guarantee a successful Everesting attempt.

The other two “input attributes” that play a determining role are the gradient and length of the climb. In other words, how hard and for how long a rider is climbing. The steeper the climb, the shorter the amount of time it takes to reach the required amount of elevation gains.

The researchers write that finding the right combination of these climb “attributes” for your fitness level is what makes the difference between finishing the challenge or having to abandon it. On it's own, this isn't a very surprising conclusion. What is surprising, however, is that they claim to have figured out what the right combo actually is.

What’s the secret sauce for successful Everesting?

Finding the sweet spot between a steeper climb but shorter overall riding time and longer riding time with a lesser gradient is the key. Based on the study’s findings, the researchers recommend that an elite rider should select a hill with a gradient of greater than 12 percent to minimize both the distance and the time that it takes to complete the attempt.

A recreational rider is advised to choose a gradient of less than 10 percent to have the best chances at successfully Everesting, finding a balance between power they’re able to produce, gradient of the hill, and distance and time it takes to complete the climb.

For the purpose of the study, the researchers defined an “elite rider” as someone who is able to sustain a “high average power per unit of body mass,” which for the study was 2.5-3.0 Watts of power per kilogram unit of body mass. A recreational rider is anyone who can’t sustain that kind of average power output.

Headshot of Natascha Grief
Natascha Grief

Natascha Grief got her first bike shop job before she was old enough to drink. After a six-year stint as a mechanic, earning a couple pro-mechanic certifications and her USA Cycling Race Mechanics license, she became obsessed with framebuilding and decided she wanted to do that next.  After Albert Eistentraut literally shooed her off his doorstep, admonishing that if she pursued framebuilding she will be poor forever, she landed an apprenticeship with framebuilder Brent Steelman in her hometown of Redwood City, CA. After that, she spent several years working for both large and not-so-large cycling brands. Somewhere in there she also became a certified bike fitter. Natascha then became a certified personal trainer and spent nine years honing her skills as a trainer and coach, while also teaching Spin. During the dumpster fire that was the year 2020, she opened a fitness studio and began contributing regularly to Runner’s World and Bicycling as a freelance writer. In 2022, she joined the staff of Bicycling as News Editor.