24-hour stair climb to raise charity cash

Annya Smyth and her team practise for the epic event. Picture: Toby Williams
Annya Smyth and her team practise for the epic event. Picture: Toby Williams
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IT’S a charity challenge that is set to see a group of 
fundraisers climb higher than the Eiffel Tower, the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro.

The 12-strong team will undertake a 24-hour stair climb to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation (Scotland) charity, hoping to climb the equivalent of Mount Everest – without leaving Edinburgh.

It will take place in the eight-storey Kennedy Tower, below, at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, where the 
fundraisers work. The Kennedy Tower has 176 stairs, with the group aiming to climb as many steps as possible from 9pm on March 21 to 9pm on March 22.

The group, consisting of ten employees from the Scottish Mental Health Research Network – part of Edinburgh University – and two members of staff from the university’s psychiatry department, will form pairs and take it in turns to climb as many stairs as possible, with at least one person always walking up or down the steps during the 24-hour period.

Annya Smyth, a clinical research assistant at the network, is among the 
fundraisers taking part in the exhausting challenge.

The 27-year-old, who lives in Bonnington, said: “We don’t know how many ascents will be possible, but as a guide the Eiffel Tower is the equivalent of 12 ascents, the Burj Khalifa the equivalent of 31 ascents and Mount Kilimanjaro the equivalent of 218 ascents.

“At the top of the list – and the world – is our ultimate goal of climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest. At 8848m [29,029ft], this is the equivalent of 327 ascents of the tower.”

Dr Smyth added: “Not only will the team be ascending the tower throughout the 24 hours, they will also be descending the tower the same number of times.

“The North Sea is about 26 descents deep, the Cayman Trough is 284 descents deep and the Mariana Trench a knee-buckling 408 descents.

“So with this in mind, and if our joints permit it, we also aim to climb the additional 81 ascents/descents required to also reach the very bottom of the Mariana Trench.”

Training for the fundraiser will include running, step classes and climbing the stairs of the Kennedy Tower around five times every two days during lunch breaks.

The participants are expected to burn thousands of calories between them over the 24 hours.

Dr Smyth said: “We’ll be climbing through the day and night and hope to keep everyone up-to-date via our dedicated Twitter feed, so log in and follow the action. We’ve also deliberately chosen a weekday to hopefully get some moral support from the Kennedy Tower staff.”

The Mental Health Foundation (Scotland) strives to improve the country’s mental health policies in order to help and support those affected by mental health problems.

All funds raised will go towards the Scottish branch of the charity.

• To make a donation, visit www.justgiving.com/SMHRN or see https://twitter.com/SMHRN1 for updates on the stair climb.