Great news! The Denali 2018 expedition is on!
After my failed attempt to summit Denali in May 2017, I will have another try in 2018.
I still remember my last time when I realized I would not summit Denali. My preparation was good, I was in such a great shape. I already knew back then my Denali story wasn’t finished yet. I did a lot of thinking on what happened. This started during my hike in Iceland, but it really hit me when I got back home. After settling with what happened, it felt very natural to start preparing for my next attempt. I picked up training and got in touch with some really interesting guys. This all led me to this big announcement; the 2018 Denali Expedition is on! But with some changes…
Changes for Denali 2018
The first huge change is that my team will be smaller, just as small as it can get. The team will be just 2 climbers, Rob and me. When I was on Denali last time, I knew there was a Dutch team as well. I briefly met one of them and was able to contact Rob back in the Netherlands. It turns out he’s a great guy, and very capable of climbing Denali. So the team will be just the 2 of us!
Second change is that we will go unguided. This time we will have to do everything by ourselves. Since we both have been there, this looks like a small step, but it’s not. During a guided expedition, a lot of decisions are made without the clients knowing about them. Think about the route, where to camp, the weather etc. I think I can pretty much say that in a guided expedition, you are pretty sure you will not get into any real (life threatening) danger. And if you happen to crash into a crevasse, you are pretty sure you will get out alive and kicking. So our responsibilities are much larger, and we will have to do everything ourselves, which will make the expedition a little heavier overall, both mentally and physically.
Yet another change: we will go earlier in the season. We plan to step on the Kahiltna glacier 1st May. While this was mostly a decision we had to take on availability of Rob, it does have a great benefit; the lower Kahiltna glacier will be colder and more stable, limiting the risk of falling into a crevasse. Plus the weather will probably be more stable hopefully with lots of sun and steady weather. To be honest, I still expect some bad weather, but we need to stay positive!
There is a downside of this though; it will be colder and there might be some black ice in the higher parts of Denali, increasing the risk of sliding. Then again, another benefit (or not) is that it will be a lot less crowded, increasing the overall adventure feeling, but also increasing the risk of having to break trail.
As you see, there are good things and bad things about going early. Overall the most successful period on Denali is end May, early June. It’s the most crowded period and thus the period with most successful summit attempts (thus some self fulfilling prophecy?). And I was there in 2017, without much luck!
And now.. prepare more!
I am already slowly increasing my training load. Right now I am running 5 times a week on a 20K schedule, and I go boot camping once a week. I will probably add another strength/core stability exercise pretty soon. Overall, I think right now i am stronger than last year around this time.
But there is more. We need to arrange flights, food, buy extra gear, make important decisions, etc. More than enough needs to be done, read all about that in the upcoming Denali 2018 series!