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Virtual climbers making mountain out of molehill

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Troy Shantz

Two local mountain climbers are already tackling their next peak, and it’s right here in super-flat Sarnia.

Dave Hill and Mike Hurry are ascending the stairs of an 11-storey apartment building 200 times to duplicate Mount Denali in Alaska, which at 20,310 feet is the highest peak in North America.

They’re hoping to raise $30,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Sarnia-Lambton in the process.

Mike Hurry and Dave Hill, bottom, peer up at some of the 35,200 stairs they’re climbing at 11 Derby Lane to equal the height of Mount Denali, North America’s highest peak. 
Troy Shantz

For the past 11 years, Hurry, the executive director, and Hill, a board member, have helped groups of outdoor enthusiasts travel the globe to climb mountains in South America, Asia, Russia and Alaska. One trek to Mount Everest in 2016 raised $117,000 for the agency.

“This is basically mimicking the climb,” Hill said of the 35,200 total steps at 11 Derby Lane. “There’s nothing around here that facilitates climbing to those heights.”

They started on Halloween and hope to finish by mid-November, arriving at 6 a.m. to climb some more before heading into work for the day.

Hill and Hurry were eyeing a Big Brothers Big Sisters trip to Mount Denali before the pandemic struck. That and other cancelled trips, as well as scrubbing the annual Show and Sales, has meant $250,000 in lost revenue, said Hurry.

“We can’t do any real climbs anywhere in the world right now.”

Though not as exciting or scenic as Alaska, the apartment building stairwell does have one advantage, Hurry added.

“Last time I was on Denali it was -52 degrees.”

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