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World Record: A day-by-day record of the Himalaya's adventure

Updated: Apr 28

Day 1

Healing others starts with healing ourselves

Deniz Kayadelen in Kathmandu
Arriving Kathmandu

Day one was more than a 24-hour journey, already taking me out of my comfort zone before landing. I flew first to Bangkok, Thailand, and had a five-hour stop, where I decided to have a really needed massage. My body was with 5% battery after the intense week of getting everything ready before departure.

From Bangkok, I flew to Kathmandu. Arriving in Kathmandu is a very different, vibrant, and stimulating experience. It is the capital of Nepal, located in the central part of the country. It's a culturally rich city known for its historic temples, complex architecture, crowded markets, and colorful festivals. It's fascinating in culture, history, and spirituality.

The team came together in this mystical place and met for the first time. The whole team is from South Africa, except me, the only one representing Europe. They came from cities such as Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg. It was amazing to meet for the first time. We come from very different backgrounds and can learn a lot from each other from our diverse experiences. We dedicated the first day to getting to know each other; bonding is essential when you are part of a team and work together toward a common goal; it strengthens us as a group. We enjoyed the sunset and went to a bar for drinks and a nice dinner while having an enjoyable conversation.

Jean Craven and Deniz Kayadelen
Jean and Deniz

Our team leader is Jean Craven, creator of the Madswimmer team, swimmer, and the sponsor of this journey. Since 2009, Jean, with Madswimmers, has gone swimming different routes to raise funds for children's charities year by year. In 2015, they broke the world record of the highest swim in history in Lake Tres Cruces Norte on the border of Chile and Argentina in the Andes Mountains at an altitude of 5909 meters above sea level. Years passed, and other swimmers overcame that record. Now, he is coming back, formed a new Madswimmers team, and invited me to be part of it to break this world record in Himalaya swimming at 6500-7000m high altitude.


Also, as part of the team, we have:

  • Vanes-Mari du Toit, swimmer and TV sports presenter.

  • Neo Mokuene is called "Black Tony Stark" and is a swimmer and explorer.

  • Sean Disney, who is our expert on Himalayas tour guide, did the Everest summit two times and seven summits twice with skiing to North and South Pole.

  • Chiara Bars is our ER doctor from Stellenbosch University, ready to take action anytime needed.


Jean Craven, Deniz Kayadelen, Vanes-Mari du Toit, Black Tony Starck, Sean Disney
Madswimmers Team getting together for the first time

Last but not least, the incredible sherpas will be with us throughout the expedition, helping to get our things up, and they will be in charge of all the logistics required to survive as we climb up. The sherpas, esteemed for their mountaineering experience, have long been indispensable to explorers in the Himalayan region. Serving as expert guides at extreme altitudes, particularly for Everest expeditions, they are highly valued in the international climbing community. Sherpas are known for their resilience, skill, and familiarity with high-altitude conditions. Their climbing abilities seem to be due to genetic adaptations to living in such environments.

Day one was a mix of excitement and nervousness for starting the adventure.

Day 2

We are heading to Mount Putha Hiunchuli in the Himalayas. The Himalayas are a mountain range in Asia that separates the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. Its name comes from the Sanskrit: Hima for cold and ālaya, which means house. The range has some of the Earth's highest peaks, including the highest, Mount Everest. It crosses five countries: Nepal, China, Pakistan, Bhutan and India.

Putha Hiunchuli lies at the west end of the Dhaulagiri Himalayan section and is 7246 meters high, making it the 95th highest mountain in the world.

Deniz Kayadelen getting gear for Himalaya
Mountaineering shop - getting gear

We started our journey. Things started becoming serious at 9:30 a.m. We met at the hotel to do the gear check. We had a big list of the gear that we needed to take care of ourselves as we went up the mountain. We went to a rental shop, where we got ice shoes, an ice axe, crampons, trekking poles, a mountain bag, a day pack, harnesses, and a headlamp… a whole set of equipment that I'm not familiar with!

Before that, Sean, our guide, helped me check everything I had brought to see what was missing and organize what stayed down in the hotel and what went up into the mountains. Logistics are a very important part of these expeditions because one little piece of gear that you forget down at sea level can make the difference at 6000 meters.  

When everything was ready, we had a nice lunch and visited the Monkey Temple to get the blessing of the mountains. This journey teaches me that you can not confront something this big without faith. We are embarking on an adventure that definitely takes us way out of our comfort zone, as almost none of us have mountaineering experience, but we all said "yes" to the challenge. Of course, risk management is done before departure, but in the end, we need to have faith that the universe will work with us all the way up, helping us as we become part of the flow with nature.

We also took the satellite to run some tests with it because, beyond the mountains, there will be no Internet connection, and this will be our only possibility to connect with the world up there.

Everything feels so surreal as I'm writing these lines. In some moments, I see myself as if I were part of one of these movies about extreme journeys, and in other moments, I'm just present in the moment. It's a mix of feelings. It is really exciting to be part of this amazing mission and writing history, and at the same time, we are just having lunch and checking if the satellite works.

In the afternoon, we had a medical brief with our doctor, Chiara; she will be monitoring us all the way up. Knowing the health risks and recognizing if something is going wrong is essential, as the most important thing is to prioritize safety. She explained that we will deal with different risks such as:  

  • The extreme cold: temperature can drop to -20 degrees or below, so we have to be careful with hypothermia and frostbite.

  • Exhaustion: our body is not used to this kind of physical activity, so endurance is crucial to maintain the pace and keep going.

  • The risk of high-altitude sickness is present. That's why part of my training also was to acclimatize, so I rented an altitude tent that simulated the heights we would face. We are not talking about just feeling dizzy, having headaches, and nausea. Those symptoms can be present at 3000 – 4000 meters. But, when you go up to 6000 to 7000 meters, the risk factors are higher cause the body is not prepared for that kind of altitude. So, we deal with more serious risks that we must be vigilant about because if we get affected, we must immediately be taken down to sea level.

This is a massive challenge for us and a totally new experience for me. Things got clearer after the conversation with Chiara, and we had a game plan. We will start taking high-altitude prevention pills to help our body cope better with high-altitude sickness, and we also have some guidelines to follow.

We have three leaders in charge of the operation: Jean, our sponsor and organizer; Sean, our tour guide; and Chiara, our doctor. They will make the final decisions regarding risk management and decide who can continue and who needs to stop because safety always comes first. We want to avoid life-threatening situations.

At the end of the day, we had dinner with a wonderful local dance show. We needed to get rest. At this point, it is very important that our body is as recovered as possible to start with our main challenge after flying out of Kathmandu to Kaan, where we will have to go through a 10-hour car journey to the other side of the city.  

Stay tuned for the day-by-day updates!

Follow the journey on Instagram!


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