Trio ride motorbike to new heights, setting world record
The trio of Walter Colebatch (UK), Lukas Matzinger (Austria) and Barton Churchill (USA) achieved their goal of setting a new world record, reaching 6,361m above sea level on the world’s highest volcano: the Ojos del Salado.
Their climb began in Copiapo (altitude 375m) and on March 18 took them up to the highest point ever reached on a motorcycle.
After reaching the Atacama base camp at 5,256m the team took a break to acclimatise to the low oxygen level at that altitude and started exploring the possibilities to continue their ride further up the mountain.
In the course of their exploratory rides US adventure rider Sherri-Jo Wilkins, who was the team’s support crew, set a new womens world record at 5,903m aboard one of the team’s Husabergs. She bettered the old mark by an impressive 517m.
The final exploration and recon mission was by foot, walking up a route that had been used by Matthias Jeschke when he set a car world record back in 2004. The route was a long one and covered with snow but it took them directly to the point where Jeschke claimed his 2004 car world record – a small peak of about 6,361m. It was there that Jeschke had built a tiny cairn of rocks with a foot long piece of bamboo sticking out of it. That bamboo seemed the only organic thing on the mountain, and they nicknamed it “Jeschke’s Noodle” which became their possible target for their new record.
One thing that was clear from the exploratory hike, was that this would be no cakewalk. It would be a long hard slog and would probably take them three days to get the bike to that point. They knew then that the amount of physical work meant they could not take all three bikes. One bike was chosen, and all three guys would ride it and haul it up the mountain as required.
Their final push started off well and after getting across the main criteria, a very steep belt of sand and rocks that surrounds the Ojos del Saldo around the 6,000 metre mark they decided to call it quits for day one of the final push and abandoned the bike along with their riding gear to have a rest day at the base camp and return in 36 hours time.
After a day’s rest, they were full of energy and enthusiasm to finish the job. The team woke at 2am, hiked up to the bikes, put the riding gear on and as the sun rose on Ojos del Salado on March 18th they were about to make history. After a long hard battle of crossing glaciers and trying to find rideable lines they closed in on their optimistic goal, “Jescke’s Noodle”.
It was Bartons turn on the bike and while he could have comfortably ridden up to the summit of Jeschke’s Noodle, Barton turned to Lukas and Walter and suggested they all take the bike and push it the last few yards to the summit, together. It was a fitting way to arrive at the new world record. They checked the GPS: they were all showing an accuracy of +/- 3m. Readings fluctuated on all units between 6,359 m to 6,363 m. But the most common reading was 6,361m and that was the middle of all the readings. They had broken the old world record by 116m. Mission accomplished!