And what a group. From experienced mountaineer Churchil, who’s ridden RTW on a KTM 640, to Matzinger, who’s rebuilt at least a dozen adventure bikes from the ground up, and with motorcycle mission vet Colebatch at the helm, this attempt looks like a recipe for success already.
Previous GWRs for motorcycle altitude include the 2002 Chinese contingent, which topped 6,113m up Everest’s North Face, and the Chilean / Swiss / Austrian team Motorecord, which reached 6,220m in Ojos del Salado, Chile, in 2008 aboard trials bikes.
The Andes Moto Extreme team has been training for the ascent since mid-January, undertaking altitude, fitness and cold conditioning in the Alps, Austria and the States.The biggest challenge will be fighting the effects of high altitude, as seasoned mountaineer Barton Churchil explains, “At 6,250 meters the atmosphere has only 47 per-cent of the oxygen as at sea level. At half this altitude physiological effects of altitude can start to take a toll. It will be great fun to walk and think much less balance and muscle around the 570s!”
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can begin at as little as 3,000m. Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness and trouble sleeping. Although the team will take specialised drugs to help them adapt to the altitude, their plan is to ascend the mountain slowly – the best way to avoid AMS – and descend immediately symptoms occur, to avoid developing more serious conditions associated with AMS, like pulmonary or cerebral edema (fluid on the lungs or brain).
Besides training and medication, the Andes Moto Extreme lads have also chosen their kit carefully to deal with the effects of high-altitude riding. “Anyone who’s ridden extensively above 4,000m will know the problems you can have with carburettors at altitude. Not only is matching the jetting to the altitude a chore, but the bikes have less power than injected bikes and there’s the ever-present danger of carb icing,” explains Colebatch.
“Husaberg has been making high-performance, fuel-injected dirt bikes for a few years now with a faultless reliability record. The bike’s low weight (114kg) and outstanding handling with 60 bhp sets it apart from every other alternative. The 570 is the obvious bike to base our efforts around.” They’ll also be wearing Klim Badlands Pro Suits with full armour and waterproofing and EXO2 heated clothing, as well as fitting the 570s with Golden Tyre GT216s and mousses, and Rekluse auto clutches.