Denali 2018 is dead… Let’s do Denali!

Mixed feelings while writing this blog about Denali 2018. The last couple of weeks a lot of things happened, but unfortunately not all things where good. So let’s dive into the current status of my Denali (2.0) Expedition progress.

Status of the expedition

As you might have understood by the title of this blog, some things have changed. The 2018 expedition was planned and we were making good progress to get all preparation done in time. But then my climbing partner decided not to go to Denali. He just didn’t felt he was ready for it. So, I had an immediate problem and I felt I had to act fast…

Testing equipment

Since I think it’s a bad decision to climb Denali solo, I had a decision to make. To find new climbing partners, I needed time… but May 2018 is getting closer every day. And it’s not easy finding capable climbers with the right ambition.. certainly not if you live in a country that has no mountains at all!

The other option I had was to drop my plans to climb Denali unguided and join another commercial expedition.  This was a hard one since I put my head on to going unguided, which is very understandable given my experience last year.

So after having a good nights sleep, some deep thoughts and difficult discussions (mostly with myself :)), I decided to drop my ambition to go unguided; I joined a commercial expedition. So expedition Denali 2018  is dead… Let’s do Denali!

Training

Training is good! I’m on the 20k intermediate schedule from Garmin. The schedule requires me to run 5 times a week. And I love it! I do most of my training sessions early in the morning before I go to work. Meaning I often get up before 6 o’clock in the morning and enjoy the silence while doing my workout. But I do look forward to running in the sunrise in a couple of weeks!

Wallballs for strenght

To add some strength and core stability I am following the Be Your Best Program at BuitenGewoonFit. I loved it last year and I love it again this year! But, because it’s always nice to do a little extra, I’m taking another extra Bootcamp work-out every week.

This all adds up to 8 workouts a week. I find it hard to compare my current fitness level to last year. But I do feel I’m on the right track!

Gear

Not much news on the Gear-section. Most things I already bought last year. But I did some extra hardware like snow pickets, and some new carabiners and slings. And of course some snowshoes! Luckily, Klimwinkel helped me a lot on this and will continue to help me. Thanks a lot for that!

Training weekend in Austria

Any other things?

Yes! Definitely! I’m working hard on the future of my project.  Recently the Utrechtse Sportkant (Sports paper of Utrecht) published a pretty big article about my The7in7 project and the Denali 2018 expedition. It’s a great read and certainly worth your time. You can use Google Translate if you don’t understand Dutch!

Another article of me, about my successful summit on Mount Elbrus, got published on Mountainreporters.

I had some small support from Vifit Sport. They were kind enough to support me with some high protein recovery bars and drinks. The drinks and bars didn’t last long, but every help is greatly appreciated and welcome!

And there is even more on the way! I’m expecting another, but smaller article, pretty soon. But more on this once the article has been published.

Is that all? No, not yet… I’m working hard on something else, which could be a really big step for the project. Stay tuned for an update on that!

Meanwhile, my focus on the Denali 2018 expedition is growing a bit every day.

Denali 2018.. Let’s do it!

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…

What a day!

Changes for Denali 2018

Small team

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!

No guide

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.

Go early

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!

Returning for Denali 2018

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!

Don’t be sponsored, influence!

 

Trying to find sponsors for your sport, dream or challenge? Not easy! After all, who wants to pay for your dream, which happens to be on some high, remote, extremely cold mountain?

Well, to be honest? I think lots of organizations do, but it’s not easy. And before I raise any expectation, I haven’t found one yet either. But, I did look into the subject and have tried one or two things. So I do think I

have some experience.

Before getting to the point, let’s have a short look at how most mountaineers get sponsors.

Two traditional options

Black desert on Iceland

Most mountaineers focus on good, and of course bad, things they l

earn from mountaineering. They translate their experiences towards everyday situations and use this to bring some important message to their sponsors. Most of you know this as a motivational speech. Add some impressive climbing photo’s and all elements of a great presentation are there.

To sell this well, you need to be a good speaker. And it really helps if something really bad happens during the climb. Lose a limb or two or barely survive. The more goes wrong, the better the story, the more people love to listen to it!

Your second option is to commit to a charity.  For me, the  most successful example of this is Alan Arnette. He committed himself to raising money for research on Alzheimer’s disease. His link to the disease is strong since his mom died of it. So Committing to a charity requires a strong belief in the goal the charity organization is aiming at. You can connect your name to the organization, and will (hopefully) be able to raise money and find a way to get enough funds for your personal goals.

Don’t be sponsored, influence!

Social media offers some great features, and I probably don’t have to tell you social media is huge. Anyone can tell anything about whatever you want. And if you do it the right way, people start listening and your opinion gets valued more and more. After all, you, as a mountaineer know best what the right stuff to use for mountaineering.

This is where Endrse.com comes to play. The people of Endrse offer an excellent platform  to bring together skilled people and organizations that need your network and opinion. They are constantly looking for organizations that benefit from good reviews on gear, clothes, support, etc. All you need to do is tell what you think about their product to as many people as possible. And the easiest way to do that is… social media!

So make sure as many people as possible like, follow or read everything you publish on social media. Register at Endrse.com and chances are they will help you to get in touch with the right organizations!