Rob also suffers from chronic fatigue; something that makes climbing the height of Everest an even more impressive feat. Yet he remains humble about the origins of challenge: “I’ve always wanted to do something for charity and saw people had been completing the 6-metre garden marathon, which I considered. But then my friend said ‘why don’t you do something daft like climb Everest on the stairs? I said ‘why not. Let’s go for it.’”
He worked out the number of “reps” he would need to do measuring the length of his staircase, which is roughly 8.43 feet high, meaning he will walk up and down his staircase over 3,350 times – a testing task for even the most committed climber. By the time he’s finished, he will have walked up the height of Everest, and back down again.
Rob admits that “nothing can prepare you for walking up and down your stairs three and a half thousand times”, but he has put in some training for the feat during his 12-week isolation. Yoga, 10km runs and cycling have all taken place over the past five or six weeks to ensure that his body is prepared for it. Still, on the day, pure adrenaline will be required.
“Throughout the day, my wife is going to read messages to me that people have sent in – that will be really positive,” he says. “ I might have a few phone calls with family members to keep me going, too.”
He also plans to stop for a takeaway pizza halfway through, and will have some vegan flapjacks on hand for an energy boost. But he says the main thing that will motivate him through is his goal to raise awareness of young people having strokes and cardiovascular illness. On the day of the challenge, he will use Twitter and Instagram to live stream his climb.
Was Rob’s gratuity motivated by the dedication of Captain Moore? “He did inspire me in a way,” he laughs. “A sense of community is something many people have found during the lockdown. We’ve actually connected with a few of our neighbours – one who told me that their husband died of a heart attack. It’s a very powerful thing.
Indeed, he credits his own strong “support network” – which includes the children from the school he teaches at – with helping his mental health recover from the stroke.
“If anything, I went through a period where I was really struggling to accept what happened to me; I just kept thinking ‘why me?’ I’m really lucky that I came out the other side of it. It’s crucial to build a network of supportive people around you.”
Could conquering the real life Everest be next on the agenda for Rob? “I would love to, but bearing in mind I’ve had a stroke and three heart surgeries, that might be a step too far,” he says. “But I would love to travel there and see base camp. Everest is the ultimate goal for many people, and it would be amazing to see people tackling it in real life.”
For now, Rob’s recovery is likely to be a little more relaxing. He will spend it taking regular baths and reading all the positive messages he’s received.
“By having a stroke and having open heart surgery you find yourself feeling very vulnerable – but after anything vulnerable you build yourself back up,” he says. “I want to show that people who have had heart surgery can still do amazing things.”
To donate to Rob’s Just Giving page, follow the link here. People have the option to donate to the British Heart Foundation or the NHS.