(MountEverest.net) In January this year, Wim Hof ran a half Marathon (21 km) above the polar circle in Finland. He wore only a pair of shorts and no shoes. The ground (snow) temperature was 35 below. In a few months time, he'll try something similar on Everest's north side. The expedition, led by Dutch Werner de Jong, will try to set a new world record as Wim attempts to climb parts of Everest wearing only shorts.
Everest altitude training: Hanging by middle finger between hot air balloons
This is not your regular stunt. Wim already has 9 world records, and has trained hard for many years to withstand cold, much like some monks do in Tibet.
Wim can actually regulate his core heat to control the temperature of his skin. Something of a medical enigma, Wim is able to withstand cold that could kill or seriously injure other people.
On Everest, Wim will also put to use his free style climbing skills - which he once demonstrated hanging between 2 hot air balloons by his middle finger at an altitude of 1500 meters. Once back inside the basket, Wim finished by climbing to the top of the balloon.
One of Wim's world record attempts took him to the North Pole, where he held his breath for about 6 minutes and 20 seconds below the ice.
Mont Blanc preps
In preparation for Everest, Wim has already climbed Mont Blanc - in shorts.
Obviously, his expedition leader is a bit jittery about the whole thing. "We hired extra Sherpa's for his safety," Werner, who will climb alongside the Iceman, told ExWeb Sunday.
"Wim will wear Everest boots, shorts, gloves and a cap. He is carrying his own backpack which will give him some extra protection. But other than that - his body will be naked."
A highly planned operation
Werner is well aware of the stunt last year when a Sherpa stripped for a brief moment on the summit and later got beat up for it by his home media. Out of respect for the locals, Werner has asked the authorities for permission, "I don't want to upset religious beliefs or something, he explained. But the locals and TMA support this attempt for a new world record.
It will be interesting to see how far Wim's temperature control will take him on altitude, where thickening blood seriously increases the risk of frostbite, among other things.
Wim will use oxygen support and won't do the entire climb in shorts. The world record will depend on the combined altitude Wim manages to reach undressed, and his team will film each section. "Maybe he will just get to 7900 m," says Werner. "That would be excellent. But if he managed to summit this way - that'd be crazy."
There are no guarantees and safety will be the main issue. "This is not a reckless stunt, but a highly planned operation," says Werner.
Back to Mont Blanc
Aside the obvious difficulty, the expedition will have to deal with all the other aspects of Everest climbing, such as the weather.
The expedition will set regular camp 1 on North Col (7000 m) and camp 2 on 7900 meters. But Werner plans an extra camp on 7500 meters for this attempt. "During breaks I'll give him clothes and hot drinks to keep him warm. When we start climbing again, he'll undress."
The immediate plan is more specialized training on Mont Blanc in the next few weeks, where Wim Hof will be sitting on ice for extended periods.
In 2004, Werner de Jong led a fall expedition to the North side of Mount Everest. What was supposed to be a climbing challenge on the deserted peak, soon turned into a logistic nightmare. This year he is launching a new team for Everest, along with three climbing mates: Robert de Vries (32), Ronnie van den Broek (36) and Wim Hof (47). Ronnie has previously summited Cho Oyu and Werner topped out Muztagh Ata (7.546m).
The team will train on Mont Blanc March 9-15, depart the Netherlands on April 1, do a trek to Langtang (5000 m) for acclimatization and expect to arrive in Everest BC around mid April. They will climb with Sherpa and O2 support from the peaks North side (North Col route).
The expedition is working together with Monterosa Treks, who run an International team on Everest this year - an American 4-man team and the Dutch Chomolungma team. The American team is led by Adrian Crane, www.teamkarma.com, who will give Everest another shot after a 2005 attempt. The two small teams share permit and logistics up to ABC.
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