When Rob Ferguson's hiking adventure up Mount Everest was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 51-year-old improvised in the confines of his living quarters in London.

When Rob Ferguson's hiking adventure up Mount Everest was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 51-year-old improvised in the confines of his living quarters in London.

Instead of life-threatening challenges from shortage of oxygen, avalanches and icy temperatures, Ferguson faced much different internal and external battles ascending the equivalent of the world's highest mountain in his apartment stairwell. Ferguson climbed 6,506 times up and down the stairs for 24 hours and 30 minutes to cover the equivalent of a up-and-down Everest hike.

"The views certainly weren't as nice as Nepal," Ferguson, a photographer and writer and fellow of the Royal Geographical Society said of his April 9 challenge. He originally planned to travel to the Himalayas to chronicle the mountain being cleaned up for the Tenzing Everest Challenge – a two-week trek led by world-renowned climber Jamling Tenzing Norgay.

"Sometimes the end task can seem insurmountable, but for this it was a similar approach – but literally taking it one step at a time."

Ferguson used a half-flight of the stairs to the second floor in his apartment building since that was all the camera recording his accomplishment on Zoom could showcase. He wanted to use his climb to promote social distancing and stay-at-home initiatives, while raising money for frontline workers.

His biggest external hurdle in finishing was he was forced to remove his shoes and conduct the hike barefoot so he wouldn't disturb his neighbors during sleeping hours.

"I had quite a few blisters," he said.

Outside of mini breaks for hydration and snacking every 50 to 100 flights of stairs, Ferguson didn't stop for over an entire day. Internally he was hit hardest when one of his partners on the trek, Jenny Wordsworth (accompanying him on social media), had to drop out with several hours to go. Wordsworth had traversed the South Pole before and took on similarly impossible challenges like Ferguson, but an Achilles injury flared up.

"That's when your mind starts to justify quitting and rewrite the narrative when you're left to our own devices," he explained. "With four to five hours to go, all by myself, I definitely thought of stopping early."

What helped him push through? Knowing healthcare workers don't get to stop what they're doing because there are lives on the line.

"Medical professionals don't have the option to stop and quit," Ferguson said. "Every expedition I've been on, no matter how difficult, I had the option to quit. Nobody is saying you've got to carry on. But emergency workers are physically exhausted and mentally drained. They don't say, 'That's it, I'm done.' They don't have that choice. So I kept telling myself, they are the reason I'm doing this. And I thought of my family and community rooting for me. You're never truly alone."

Ferguson, an ambassador for Arc'teryx, an outdoor equipment company, has been moonlighting as a professional physiotherapist while volunteering for the National Health Service. There, he saw the commitment of healthcare professionals.

"Working for NHS you get to see a lot of what people are doing on the front line," he said, "so it kind of smacks home a little bit. When you're doing something hard, it's always subjective. Hard compared to what? Well, I found something to go up against what I was dealing with."

Part of the mental and physical challenge of the journey was the lack of nature to fuel his spirit. Having traversed Norway's temperatures and U.S. deserts before, Ferguson said he's typically able to draw from adrenaline created by beautiful views.

That's where a neighbor helped. A younger girl had drawn a picture of a rainbow that he saw on every up-and-down. Although not the same as the real thing, it sufficed to help push him over the edge.

"The view did not change the whole climb, but I found inspiration from unique places," he said.

Ferguson has spent most of his life in extreme environments – using his photography and writing to convey meaningful stories around the world based about the human experience and topics such as climate change.

Ferguson knows his journey, which began at 7:15 a.m. and concluded the next day around 7:45 a.m., is not one that typical climbers will take on. But he encourages hikers of all levels to give stairs a try during quarantine.

"The important thing for people who want to try stairs for a workout, if they have a purpose for a charity, is that they make it achievable," Ferguson said. "If you're really doing it for your own physical fitness, to help during the social isolation period, don't put too much pressure on it and have fun. It's all about pacing."