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 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!


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.

Prepping for Denali: The final episode

Part five of my monthly countdown on prepping for Denali. And the final episode on this series. While writing this, there is less than a month before departure. So this is the grand finale. What did I do last month? Or maybe more important, what will I do this last month?

Physical preparation

Last month my training schedule did not change a lot anymore. I focus a bit more on endurance workouts. The 2 hour hikes with backpack are a pretty good exercise. First couple of times 30kg backpack trainingwere pretty hard, especially for my hips. But I did improve and the hikes are okay now!

Cycling is getting more fun, because of better temperatures and longer daylight. I enjoy these sessions a lot and am really surprised by the improvement I made in overall strength the last months.


Complete! Well, almost. Just some little last things are underway as we speak.

Mountain Equipment Iceline Mountain Equipment Iceline. Yess! I managed to get the 2017 version of the Mountain Equipment Iceline. Unfortunately it’s too warm to test it at home, but I fully trust this sleeping bag will perform excellent in the glacier!

The expedition

Still need to book a hotel in Anchorage. Will do this pretty soon!

So what’s up for the last month?

Well, first and foremost: not getting injured, and be sure I’m fully rested when I get on that plane!

If I wouldn’t be in a great shape now, this would be big problem. There is simply not enough time left to change that. But, luckily that’s not the case as you can probably tell after all these episodes on Prepping for Denali. I will just continue to train like I’ve been doing for months now. Sure there will be this voice in the back of my head telling me to take it easy. But I don’t think I will listen.

The 2nd week of May I need to go to Lisbon for a business trip. This will take 4 days. 4 days where I need to find a way to do some training. Probably the gym in the hotel and maybe some good hikes on the beach (or anybody who want’s do to some rock climbing, let me know!).

And of course, the big get-all-your-gear-and-start-packing fest will start! I have checked the Alpine Ascents Denali gear list a million times by now, and I am pretty sure I have everything. There are just some small decisions left to make on what clothes to bring or not. I will definitely post some packaging pics as the fest started!

And last of all, there is still this half planned hike in Iceland. Nothing new here yet. It’s still to far to says anything useful about the Laugavegur-trek. I think I’ll send an e-mail to just before I leave for Anchorage. This way I can get a last minute update.

So, to wrap it all up; I feel I am ready and can’t wait to finally leave. Right now, it’s just some small details that need to be done. There is not much that can stop me now!

The price I pay are not the euro’s I spend

Climbing is definitely not the cheapest thing to do. For those who wonder, climbing Denali will cost you over 10.000 euro including the trip, flights, gear and everything. Most of the 7 summits are a little less expensive. Notable exceptions are Everest and Vinsion. Both are much more expensive; over 40.000 euro each. But that’s only money.. and in the end not the biggest price I pay.

The real price cannot be written down in any amount of cash.


I demand myself to be in an excellent physical condition for all summits. My training sessions are pretty intense, hard and long. I train about about twice as hard as Alpine Ascents recommends for Denali. Why? Because this is one thing I can control to increase my chance of summitting.

The price, lost of trainingThe price, lost of training

The real price

Like most men of about 40 years old, I have a family and a full time job.  And there is the real price. Time is limited and, like most people, I cannot buy any extra. This forces me to prioritize. Working less is not an option, since there is a mortgage to pay and there are mouths to feed.

The price, lost of trainingThe price, lost of training

Family life

This is where I have to prioritize and choose. I have a wife and two young kids. I often choose between either bringing my kids to bed or go out for my daily suffer-session. Choose between spending a Saturday with my wife and kids in the park and have fun with them. Or choose to spend an evening with my wife in some fancy restaurant.

And guess what I choose most of the time? Indeed, training!

Intrinsic motivation

Some time ago, I spoke to a colleague of mine who was surprised by the strength of my intrinsic motivation. I strongly believe this is the only true working motivation for someone to be successful. Almost every day I choose between my wife and kids, whom of course I love very much, and the training I need to be in a good shape. It’s never easy to say no to my son who’s asking me to play a game with me.

But there’s always this voice  in my head, this focus demanding me to be successful on Denali. And the only one who is pushing me to do this is … me.

So is this price too high?

No, definitely not! While it’s definitely not always easy. I am very aware of the choices I make and the things I miss because of them. But to me, the are rewards that are huge. Of course summiting Denali, or any other challenging mountain, is one of those rewards. But maybe even better are the lessons I learn about myself; my mind, my body and how I react to the things I do. And hopefully I can share some of that knowledge with my family and the world.