Belgian man to brave Denali climb in human-powered quest

a cyclist
Belgian climber Jelle Veyt poses on the Alaska border on March 14, 2024 after cycling to the state through Canada. (Courtesy Jelle Veyt Instagram page)

This week, Belgian climber Jelle Veyt is on the final leg of a journey to Denali that has brought him more than 15,000 miles.

Unlike the hundreds of climbers who fly to base camp each year, Veyt will be traveling to the Kahiltna Glacier on skis. In fact, his entire trip to Alaska has been accomplished by a combination of human and sail power.

“I went to France, then to Portugal,” Veyt said. “I rode to the Canary Islands, and then I went to Panama by sailboat and cycled all the way up here.”

For Veyt, the timing of his trip was crucial. He needed to arrive while there was still snow to ski on from his starting point on Petersville Road. That meant biking through Canada and Alaska during the winter.

“I’ve been cycling in winter through British Columbia, the Yukon, Alaska,” he said. “It’s lonely, it’s (40 degrees below zero). Eight days, I had no shops, no places to sleep inside. So you’re out there all by yourself. You see cars pass by….You have to convince yourself not to try to stop that car.”

After arriving in Talkeetna, Veyt took a little more than a week to rest and consult with local experts on Denali.  He says the mountaineering community here has been very welcoming.

“I’ve been welcomed….Most people I talk to are really experienced people. They’re great mountaineers,” he said.

The current attempt on Denali is one part of a larger project for Veyt.  His ultimate goal is to reach the highest point on every continent, a feat known as the Seven Summits, using human and sail powered transportation.  The project has been going for 11 years, and Veyt has three more summits to reach: Aconcagua in South America, Mount Vinson in Antarctica, and Denali.

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