Ice Climbing Marathon: Will Gadd does 194 laps

Will Gadd readying for the Endless Ascent
Will Gadd readying for the Endless Ascent

Some people just can't get enough. Marathon contests have always been popular, though they are usually applied to more accessible things like dancing or drinking.

Climbing, on the other hand, is physical enough that most normal people wouldn't consider doing marathon climbing sessions, at least not voluntarily. The sheer volume of mountaineering literature probably wouldn't exist without the many epics caused by people needing to climb through storms, injuries, and mind-blowing cold.

Of course, as Ted Alvarez wrote on Wednesday, most climbers aren't Will Gadd.


During the annual Ouray Ice Festival last week, Gadd decided to up the ante as part of a fundraiser for the dZi Foundation, a non-profit that provides educational and health opportunities to small communities in the Himalaya.

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Starting at noon on January 9, Gadd set out to do as many laps as he could on the Pic of the Vic ice climb in the Box Canyon at Ouray, with the goal of climbing for 24 consecutive hours. When Gadd finished 24 hours later, he had done 194 laps on the 40 meter route, climbing an astonishing 25,414 feet during the marathon, which raised somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000 for the dZi foundation.

According to an interview with Gadd done by Apinist Magazine, Gadd's original goal was to do 87 laps, which equals the distance from Everest Base Camp to the summit. Gadd did the routes on top rope, and when he was being lowered to the bottom he would eat electrolyte shots, and he kept water at the top of the route to drink. He said he "puked at around lap 75." Gadd also had 23 belayers total, one for each hour.

You can view photos from Gadd's marathon Endless Ascent here.


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