Desiree climbs the Himalayas: The 7-summit project continues

Desiree climbs the Himalayas: The 7-summit project continues

This upcoming Tuesday, April 16, Desiree will fly via Miami to Nepal, where she will leave for her expedition to climb two over-6000-meter mountains to fulfil her 7-summit project.

Desiree, who has lived on the island for some 20 years, started this 7-summit project in May 2022. Her dream became a reality when local companies and businesses helped her bring our Sint Maarten flag to the summit of multiple mountains by sponsoring her project.

Over the last two years, her days have been filled with training herself, climbing mountains, and training clients – she is a well-known personal trainer here on the island, and is specialised in medical training.

In May 2022, she climbed two mountains in Peru, both far above 5000 meters. In December of that same year, she went back to climb two more. Unfortunately, there were political problems in Peru, which forced her to flee the country and return to Sint Maarten, after having climbed just one mountain.

In May 2023, Desiree travelled to Bolivia to climb three over-5000-meter mountains – and even one that was over-6000 meters. However, she counted only two of them for her 7-summit project. Now in April and May, she will leave for a six-week expedition. To climb the two over-6000-meter mountains in the Himalayas, she will be in the mountains for 28 days at least.

Training for this kind of Alpine climbing is hard, Desiree says.

“We are on sea level and must deal with altitude when in the mountains. It takes a while before the body starts to adjust to the altitude. That’s why when we climb, we always climb higher than where we sleep, with the exception that when we climb to the summit of the mountain, we will leave high camp in the middle of the night. Then we reach the summit in the early morning hours. We stay on the summit no longer than 15 minutes to take pictures, see the view and then we leave to go back to high camp. We call it the summit push, depending on the mountain, but it takes an average of 10 to 15 hours. Nonstop.”

Desiree loves climbing. People always ask her what her next hike is. When people say, “hike”, she always smiles.

She explains: “There is a big difference between a hike and a climb. When you climb, you have special climbing high-altitude boots. It’s possible to deal with temperatures far below 0-degree Celsius, sometimes even -25. We wear crampons, a harness; we work with ropes and special climbing gear. I always climb only with a guide – there are no other people in the group.”

Desiree does not like to talk too much about the danger of the climbing sport. “I can get hit by a car and my life will be over. I am extremely careful. I must be. I have a daughter, a family, and friends. I just love the excitement of climbing. The nature, the beauty of the mountain, the dawn coming up over the ridges of the mountain – I mean look at the picture… Have you ever seen this? I have; and to me that’s a privilege.”

Looking forward to finishing her project, Desiree already has other exciting plans: “If my body can handle the impact of climbing, I will not stop. I am writing a book about my life. When I come back, I will find a publisher. In Kathmandu, I’ll probably have time to write for a couple of days before I return to Sint Maarten. So much to tell – I really love my life.”

Desiree concludes: “A big thank you to all the supporters I have had till now. Without the support of my great sponsors, family and friends, this would not be a success.”

Follow Desiree on Instagram @ fitness_desiree_winkel

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