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Aiden's epic challenge in memory of his friend

The concept of everesting is simple: Pick any hill, anywhere in the world and ride repeats of it in a single activity until you climb 8,848m – the equivalent height of Mount Everest.

This is what ex-St David’s College pupil Aiden O’Leary attempted to do last weekend, alongside his friend Callum Dixon, in aid of a foundation set up in memory of a young man who took his own life last year.

Aiden’s friend Callum Wylie, from Betws y Coed, was a multi-talented young man who had autism. He was a brilliant mountain-biker, freestyle skier, and guitarist. Callum was clearly adored by his peers who revered his talents far more than he himself ever could. In January 2018, just a month after his 18th birthday, he took his own life and his death shocked Aiden to the core.

Since his passing, a tidal wave of heroic young men and women have been engaging in some remarkable feats of endurance to help raise funds for The Callum Wylie Foundation, a charity being set up by Callum’s grieving family. The Foundation aims to raise awareness of Asperger’s Syndrome in schools and colleges. Aiden and Callum have already raised £1,400 for the foundation.

Last Friday the intrepid duo set out to ‘Everest’ Marchlyn Mawr on their bikes in what turned out to be the most atrocious weather conditions that North Wales could throw at them. Most ‘Everesting’ challenges will fail because the rider is forbidden to sleep over a 24-hour period of continual cycling and can stop only briefly between repeats in order to refuel their depleted energy stores. It is the most gruelling and hellish cycling challenge imaginable.

Just before 7am, Aiden and Callum set out to complete 33 and 32 repeats (respectively) on two separate routes up Marchlyn Mawr above Deiniolen. The conditions were appalling and the obligatory descent, customarily used by the rider to ‘coast’ or take it easy in between uphill repeats, ended up being utterly treacherous. The force of the wind threatening to topple the cyclists completely. To top it all, a thick dense fog descended at nightfall, such that there was absolutely no visibility afforded the riders at all. Despite this, the pair of them battled on through extreme pain, hallucinations, the very real threat of hypothermia, and dreadful fatigue until they had each completed 27 of the 33/32 repeats at approximately 3.45am on Saturday morning. Perhaps unsurprisingly 19-year-old Aiden was then overwhelmingly floored by fatigue. He quite simply conked out having clocked up an impressive 7,000 metres of ascent over nearly 21 hours of climbing. It was now down to the older and more experienced of the two cyclists to carry on until, at 7am Callum successfully ‘Everested’ Marchlyn. Congratulations to Callum who has managed to make it into the elite ‘Hells 500’ club of cyclists.

Aiden said: “I consider myself to be extremely fortunate to have met and been able to ride with such a spirited individual as Callum Wylie, and I am confident that he would have approved of this apparent harebrained scheme wholeheartedly.”

Aiden’s and Callum’s Just Giving page is still live if you’d like to make a donation please go to: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/aiden-oleary


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