Project Ojos del Salado

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Desert to Summit: Breaking the World Record for Highest Altitude Reached on a Bike

Leo and Ryan are on a mission to break the world record for the highest altitude reached on a bike. They'll be biking across the remote Patagonia and then the driest desert in the world, the Atacama, and ascending one of the highest, most remote mountain ranges on earth, the Andes. Their ultimate goal? To reach as high as possible with their bikes on the slopes of the highest volcano in the world, Ojos del Salado, and go higher than anybody before them. 

Follow their journey as they push the limits of what can be done on a bike and test the boundaries of human endurance. Not only that, they have also partnered up with World Bicycle Relief, who also show what bikes are capable of by giving them to communities to spearhead social and economic development. Watch as they attempt to make history and find out if they will be able to succeed by following along on Instagram (@projectods and @theryantorres_) and on the blog updates below. Get ready for a journey of a lifetime!

Thank you to our sponsors:

- Why Cycles/Revel Bikes

- GoPro for a Cause

- Old Man Mountain

My Updates

Days 9,10, 11 – Standing still

Tuesday 3rd Jan

Back in base camp, Ryan realizes that, in his emergency descent from the mountain, he has forgotten his GoPro camera containing proof of the record inside the refuge of the highest camp. He rests in base camp for 72 hours until he can recover the camera and on the 25th of December, the 11th day, makes his way back to Copiapó, the closest town.

After 3 flights, Ryan gets back Stateside, to join Leo after completing the journey of a lifetime. 


Day 8 – 6,286m New World Record

Tuesday 3rd Jan

On the dawn of Day 8, on December 21st, he is joined by Leo and a local guide who drive up to accompany him as he trespasses the 6,000 meter barrier. At 6,100 meters, Leo, accompanying him on foot, has to descend due to the high altitude.

Ryan, a mere 100 meters from the world record, decides to, once again, keep pushing solo. At 13:27pm, he reaches 6,286meters, a NEW WORLD RECORD for 'highest altitude reached on a bike'. The previous record, 6,234m was defended from a then-47-year-old German since 2014. Ryan reaches the new altitude, 50m higher,  with his blood oxygen clocking in at 37% - one third of the oxygen he should otherwise be getting.

After a couple of photos and videos verifying the altitude reached, he descends to 5,800 meters and is quickly driven down to lower altitudes to allow his muscles and brain to receive more oxygen. 

Day 7 – Tejos, the highest mountain hut in the world

Tuesday 3rd Jan

Ryan starts the day at 5,200 meters (17,000ft), where the low atmospheric oxygen concentration dampens sensorial perception, disrupts thinking, and makes moving – much less pedaling – an excruciating experience.


Later in the day, he sets foot on Tejos refuge, which at 5,800 meters (19,000ft) is the highest mountain hut in the world. Conditions resemble the moon: finely deposited dark sand on the ground alongside volcanic rocks make for a monochromatic scenery, only broken by the bright-orange-painted refuge, equipped with a 3-inch door to hermetically seal the outside, where he is staying alone for the night. Temperatures reach -20C, and Ryan tries to get some rest. He wears all his mountaineering clothes inside his sleeping bag to maintain his body heat.

Day 6- Towards Atacama refuge

Tuesday 3rd Jan

Ryan sets off early in the morning towards the second refuge, with nearly 2,500 feet of vertical climb ahead of him in well below freezing temperatures, with polar-cold headwinds and occasional crosswinds that toss him to the ground and into ankle-deep volcanic sand.


After 8 hours alone in the mountain he reaches the second camp, Atacama refuge, where a small French expedition he quickly fraternizes with invites him to dinner – he is too exhausted to cook for himself.

Day 5 – acclimatization

Tuesday 3rd Jan

Ryan, now alone in the basecamp’s refuge, decides to take a rest day to give his body time to adapt to the altitude. He arranges his gear and prepares for the second phase of the expedition: extreme high altitude mountaineering on his bike. He double checks his cold-weather gear, makes some minor mechanical repairs to his bike, and studies the path that lays ahead.  

Day 4 – basecamp, finally

Tuesday 3rd Jan

Temperatures are markedly colder up here, we start pedaling at around 12,000ft across salt flats. Around 11am, Leo, showing signs of hematuria, has to take a ride to the nearest hospital – almost 4 hours away by car.

Ryan decides to keep on pushing across the desert alone. He finally reaches base camp, at an altitude of 14,700 feet later that day.


With a blood oxygen reading below 70, Ryan has difficulty breaking a chocolate bar in two. He lays down in the base camp refuge and tries to sleep, but a resting heart rate of 120bpm – equivalent to running – makes the task all the more difficult.

[Image: biking towards basecamp]

Day 3 - in the desert

Tuesday 3rd Jan

Third day in the desert, the stinging sun and still air make the days long and hard. These conditions challenge every fiber of our soul, but we know we have to keep going. The effects of altitude are more apparent each passing day: pedaling is harder, senses are more muted, and our coordination is visibly impaired.


Towards late afternoon, we reach the Chilean border checkpoint, 70 miles from the actual international border with Argentina, and sleep in one of the old abandoned huts – a clear improvement from our small tent.


Days 1 & 2

Tuesday 20th Dec
Ryan and Leo (via sat phone):

Day 1: Ryan and Leo find themselves 25 miles into the desert. They stop to set up camp before sundown, the closest gas station east? 300 miles away, past the Andes mountains. Ahead of them: arid mountains and a lot of sand. 

At the end of the second day, both bikers stand at 9,000 feet, after a very long day of biking. The merciless desert sun combined with a constant gradient make for a challenging day, but the bikers persevere and start to feel the effects of altitude. Two more days in the desert, then they will start ascending the volcano, Ojos del Salado. 

The route

Friday 2nd Dec

1 - Leo 2 - Ryan & Leo 3 - Ryan

Leo in Patagonia

Friday 2nd Dec
Leo arrives to South America 2 weeks before Ryan. He uses that time to bike in the Chilean Patagonia, where ice-age-shaped valleys, give way to lush greenery and snow-capped peaks. Leo gets his first taste of the incredible kindness and hospitality of the Chilean people in this remote regio, and uses the bike's wide tires to glide past challenging terrain.

The Atacama desert

Friday 2nd Dec

International border

Ojos del Salado

Friday 2nd Dec

High Mountaineering in Ojos del Salado

Friday 2nd Dec

Thank you to my supporters


James Washington

I would like to donate 1 bike each for Leo and Ryan







Harsha Ravindran


Grace Meredith

A wonderful achievement completed in the name of a powerful cause. Bravo!


Edward Cook

Spaniard! So proud of you. You are the best and very important and special to our Prescott and to me! Chest butts and bear hugs and push ups to you🇺🇸🎄 🚴


Pam Kentra


Danny Stonberg



Desert doesn’t stand a chance


Courtney Garneau

Go for it!!!


Scott Holland

Fantastic project!


Mike Micucci

Go Leo! Wish I could join you! Mike