Pirelli Everesting with automotive journalist Okan Altan

Pushing the driver, the car and the tyres to the extreme to achieve vertical gain without taking a break or even stopping… We attempted one of the most demanding climbing challenges of the world with a twist!

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Climbing to heights above the clouds and driving on the mountains with endless summit views was something I loved since my university years when I had taken up mountaineering as a hobby. In my 32-year career as an automotive journalist, I always preferred to test cars on uphill elevations and winding roads. And I will never forget the thrill of taking the hairpins and climbing the most daunting mountain passes on the Alps, the Pyrenees, in Romania, and of course, Turkey.

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This was why I took a Mediterranean Tour in an Alfa Romeo 156, a 14-day 10,000k European Tour in my small Hyundai i10, and a Fiat Doblo from Turkey to the USA in two weeks, all in the winter months. And five years ago, during my World Tour with Fiat Tipo, equipped with Pirelli Cinturato, as I drove the Trans-Siberian and especially Mexican landscapes, I learned once again how important it was to have durable tyres.

Having tested cars and tyres in some of the most demanding conditions, from the fastest tracks to the most challenging terrains, I wanted to take things up a notch. This time, I aimed to bring the test drive to the top of the mountains and undertake the Everesting challenge to make things even more difficult.

Everesting is a concept that involves picking a mountain route and completing repeats of it in a single activity until you climb 8,848m, the equivalent height of Mt Everest. In our “summiting” attempt to climb the most difficult summit of the world, we tested the performance of the car, its tyres and even the driver in extreme conditions far beyond real-life situations to assess their endurance.

If you are not an accomplished mountaineer, it is literally impossible for you to climb Mount Everest! But technically, anyone can attempt the Everesting challenge, which has become quite a trend worldwide in recent years. You need to find a hill to climb, repeat the route without stopping or taking a break, and reach 8,848 metres of Mount Everest.

Until recently, this extreme sporting challenge was done on a bike, and occasionally some trail runners attempted it. But now, some people are even trying it on inclined treadmills in gyms.

In the world of cars, a few 4WD SUVs and electric vehicles aiming to prove kinetic energy gains have attempted Everesting, ignoring the no-stop rule. In contrast, we used a standard front-wheel drive passenger car for our Everesting challenge and followed all the traffic rules. TOSFED, the Turkish Automobile Sports Federation, an FIA member, supervised the event as we recorded our first official time.

To climb to the heights of the world's highest summit, we chose Fiat Tipo Cross S2 1.6 MultiJet without any modifications. And to tackle the rough surfaces on the Northeast Anatolian Mountains, we equipped the car with Cinturato All Season SF2 tyres, which bring Pirelli's experience in Formula 1 and WRC tyres to the roads.

We also wanted to see how all-season tyres would perform in varying road conditions and whether an affordable standard car would be handled easily without the driver feeling tired. In other words, we aimed to challenge their limits in a different setting than their usual environment. Therefore, this attempt would be a reality check.

On the last weekend of May 2021, in cloudy weather that makes the surface slippery, we mapped a 24k route with 50 sharp corners, starting from the banks of the Çoruh river in Artvin and reaching the Genya summit above the Mersivan Atabarı Ski Resort. We planned to climb from 190 metres to 1,985 metres and repeat it five times, gaining an altitude of 1,795 metres each time and finally exceeding the height of the 8,848-metre summit of Mount Everest. As we drove 216 kilometres and took 450 sharp corners in total without stopping, we had to follow traffic rules in residential areas. Furthermore, we had to make sure that we did not run out of fuel as we drove the car at high revs.

For our attempt to pass the 8,848-metre height mark, we designed the conditions to be as challenging as an Everesting event undertaken by a regular car on occasionally gravel roads, with up to 20% inclines and steep climbs, especially as we neared the summit.

Fatih Kara, Fiat Turkey Motorsports professional rally driver, completed the Everesting challenge in 4h20m with Tipo Cross, equipped with Pirelli's all-season tyres. I managed to finish soon after him.

The Pirelli all-season tyres we chose for the challenge did not cause us any stress in terms of mileage performance, low rolling resistance, and safety. Thanks to their compound, the tyres remained in good condition and performed well even as temperatures changed 25 degrees between start and summit. The unique tread pattern enhanced our safety in sudden brakes and quick accelerations, even on dry and wet gravel roads. The optimally positioned three-dimensional grooves also contributed to versatile performance. On the other hand, improved pattern sequence elevated our driving comfort as we felt better thanks to reduced rolling noise and fuel consumption, and lower CO2 emissions.

The standard, non-racing tyres, which delivered such high efficiency in our unusual Everesting challenge, proved to be a real success.

In a way, as regular people, we once again confirmed the TÜV SÜD “Performance Mark”, proving the excellent engineering of Cinturato All Season SF2 tyres, which bring Pirelli's experience in Formula 1, WRC, and other racetracks to roads.

Bringing together Pirelli and Fiat Turkey, two brands at the heights of their respective fields with the first tyre and automobile factories built in Turkey half a century ago, in another “first” made me really happy. Taking two “localized” brands with many firsts to their names to another summit and proving that they could reach the height of the world's highest mountain, even if, in theory, with their latest products, was an extraordinary experience for me.

Feeling the massive attraction of the mountains and the appeal of the cars and aiming for the summit in every aspect is fantastic.