The Challenge – Climb a Vertical Mile in 5 Hours

I’ve been climbing the stairs up a mountain for 4 years now. It started as an innocent pastime which turned into, I guess, an obsession. I’m addicted to it. I’ve almost climbed  a million stairs there in 4 years. What a cool thing it is to say it – right? Most of it has been fun, lots of fun. I meet people from all over the world on the steps and hear a little about them and what they’re doing. I’ve met a half-dozen from Hawaii there over the years.

The mountain has 1,237 steps of all sizes. Some are 4 inches. Some are 22 inches high. There are groups of steps that go at 75-80 degree angle up – almost like climbing a ladder. Total vertical height of the top is 278 meters. According to Google’s calculator, that’s 912 feet high. A mile is 5,280 feet.

I’ll have to figure out how many steps to climb on the 6th go round to make a mile. Who knows if I can make it the whole way up the 6th time. I might not have to! 5.8 times up is equal to a mile. Guess I’ll have to do the 6 to make sure I made it.

There is a small group of us that likes to climb the steps repeatedly. Here’s who we are.

  • Alfred – 72 years old and climbing a couple times per week. Alfred has climbed the stairs 4 times back to back in 3 hours.
  • Me – 45 years old, climbing 7-10 times per week. I did 4 times in 140 minutes one time last week when I felt good.
  • Phra Gop – a 23 year old monk at the temple (the steps are at a Buddhist temple) that climbed 5 times with some rest over a day.
  • Phra Pornpitak – a 47 year old monk that climbed 1,600+ times over the course of 16 years.
  • Joe – a 34 year old Brit that teaches English and climbs when he can. More of a soccer player.
  • Jim – a 58 year old Brit that can climb the steps to the top in 15 minutes.

So, with the exception of the monks – we’re a motley crew. Joe and I met up the other day and he got the crazy idea that we should try to climb 5 times up the steps – in a row, in about 5 hours total time.

Me, having just completed 4 times on a whim a few days before said, “Yeah, great idea – let’s do it.”

So, Joe and I will attempt 5 times. If I feel good – my real goal is to shoot for climbing a vertical mile at the steps, 6 times. Yesterday I climbed a 500 meter high 4 km long trail up a mountain that stresses my legs in a different way, to help prepare for the vertical mile climb. I think the 4 times I went up the other day helped. I also climbed 12 times in 7 days last week. I think that will help.

To see information about this Thailand Vertical Mile Challenge (click)

Joe hasn’t climbed much – once per week recently – but he has the advantage of youth and having played a lot of soccer over the years. Anyway, we’ll see how we can do. I did invite Alfred by SMS text message, but got no reply. Not sure he’s up for the challenge, as his knee has been clicking audibly lately. We’ll see! I’ll call him now. If you haven’t seen Alfred climbing the steps yet – check out this video below!

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