About me

Stef Wolput

STef "Wolf" Wolput
50 years young

Favourite books:

The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien

Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson

Steve Jobs Biography, Walter Isaacson

Jony Ive Het genie achter Apple, Leander Kahney

 

Favourite Radio Station:

Studio Brussel


Favourite drink:
Water in any form


Favourite food:

Healthy fresh home-cooked food

 

Favourite quotes:

"The summit doesn't move but the Journeys endless"

"The trail to the summit leads through the deepest valleys"

"Failure is not a crime but a lack of effort is"

"A strong man doesn't need to read his future he makes his own"

"If you can dream it you can do it"

"No mountain is to high to make one's dream come true"

 

Loic Desage and Stef Wolput on the summit of Mont Blanc 27 aug 2009

A special word of thank you goes out to my parents. They are responsible for infecting me with the mountain virus. As a young boy they dragged me along on their mountain hikes in summer and ski trips in winter and I loved it. As a teenager the mountains went out of view and other interests took the foreground for a long time but the virus kept simmering. 

Summer 2007 I decided out of the blue to make a family trip to Chamonix.  Why Chamonix? I still don't know , being a father myself maybe I wanted to infect my daughter with the same mountain virus I got from my parents. But something very different happened. The virus that had been simmering for decades suddenly flared up by the sight of the Mont Blanc. I gave myself two years to get on top of the majestic mountain. From that day on, I turned my lifestyle 180 degrees around. To reach my goal I started to train almost every day and banned all alcohol.  During my preparation an other idea took shape. Why limit myself to one mountain when there are so many others: the 7 SUMMIT challenge was born. But in the meantime Chamonix kept calling and with the family I returned in 2008 and 2009 to do some hiking.

And then in August 2009 after all the physical training the real work started, back to Chamonix for a Namaste Mont Blanc course. Finally climbing !! This was my first real experience in the high mountains. Almost everything was new for me: glaciers, crevasses, crampons, ice axe, roped climbing... but I was here to learn and I did. In September 2009 I reached my first goal the Summit of the Mont Blanc 4810 m via the 3 Mont Blancs route. It was hard but I got to the summit thanks to my excellent guide Loic from whom I learned a lot. Thank you, Loic. During this mountain course we didn't limit us to snow but we also did some  rock-climbing.  The day after the Mont Blanc I climbed together with my guide the Arête des Cosmiques. Great climbing I can recommand this to everyone, if you're not scared of heights.

The Mont Blanc climb made me realise that if I wanted to succeed my project, I didn't only need a good physical condition but also a good technical background.  This made me decide to take a rock climbing course which from February 2010 over a  two years period prepared me for the official KBF leader exam.  The physical preparation never really stops, at a rate of six days in seven during a three week period and then a week of relative rest.  I have to stay fit as the next big climb is approaching.

On 5  September 2010 I climbed my first of the seven Summits: Elbrus in Russia, Europe's highest mountain. Together with RMI I climbed this two headed Russian monster's rugged and remote North side in expedition style, moving camps as we climbed higher up the mountain. To finaly attack the West Summit (5642m) and to summit  as first Belgian ever via the north side.

 

STef Wolput on summit Baruntse

The adventure was far from over, and in 2011 it was time to go to the next level and to move my area of interest to every climbers dream: the Himalayas. Hardly recoverd from a Neuroborroliosys infection  I summited in November 2011 with the support of Summit Climb two Himalayan peaks: Mera peak North (6476 m) and the technical Baruntse (7152m). On which I was one of the few and maybe the only Belgian that ever summited the real Baruntse summit. Specials thanx goes Australian climber Daniel Newton with whom I shared a tent during the whole expedition and to expedition leader Arnold Coster who will always be a friend. Standing on the summit of Baruntse I had a clear view on two beautiful giants: on my left side Lhotse and on my right side Makalu. I knew that one day I would be standing at least on one of them. 

That same year I was invited by Stef Maginelle to join his Gasherbrum expedition "One team one Goal" to climb both Gasherbrum 1 and 2 in 2013. Two 8000 m giants in the Karakorum mountain range of Pakistan. During the preparation phase of this climb it  became clear to me that something was wrong with my body. I went from neurologist to neurologist but none could give me a diagnosis.  But they agreed that I was not Lyme disease.

Unfortunately I had to abandon the whole expedition project and see my buddies leave for Islamabad. Even then they saw me as a team member, something I will always remember.

The expedition had summit succes with Stef Maginelle summiting both G1 and G2 and Guido Riemenschneider summiting G2. I could have been there as well. Meanwhile I was working on my comeback.

Instead of sitting in my sofa and crying while my teammates where climbing in Pakistan, I had my own project. And on 23 july 2013 together with my wife, Katrien, we summited Cerro Chirripo (3820m) the highest mountain of Costa Rica and Central America.  We enjoyed the sunrise from the summit seeing both the Atlantic and Pacific ocean.  This is what setting Everests is all about. Every setback can trigger a new challenge. 

 

In september of that same year, I was invited to help out in a special project.  The Operational Air Force command organized, COMOPSAIR goes MS. Multiple Scleroses patients were given the possibility to set their own Mont Everest, to climb on foot the iconic Mont Ventoux.  A challenge that for most sounded sheerly impossible. With the aid of over 60 military personnel, all 40 MS patients made it to the summit. Job well done to all.

That event gave me the strength to restart my own training program. Since I am working on my physical rehabilitation together with my fysio, friend, homie and fellow mountaineer Stef Yak Maginelle. Every day meant progress: my own Everest to conquer. I learned to walk again then to jump. It went with ups and a lot of downs. At a certain point I gave up, I was fed up. Although I made very good progress, my body protested. It refused to collaborate. Maybe I wanted to progress too fast or maybe my mind wasn't yet ready for a new chapter. 

August 2014, Koh Chang, a tropical island white beaches, palm trees and mountains.  Who would ever expect that my first steps back into mountaineering would be taken in a tropical paradise.  For  days I sat on the beach and gazed at the highest point of the island, called Salak Phet (744m). I doubted for days, would I or wouldn't I climb that mountain. I was out of shape, untrained and uncertain about my ability to climb. Until my wife booked me a local guide and said: "Stop wining and climb that mountain" and there I went. I had rained for the last 24 hours and the rainforest was wetter then wet. Raindrops as big as tennis balls fell from the sky. But I was eager to go, setting my Everest, conquering that hill on a rainy Thai Island. At 8 o'clock we left the car for what was supposed to be a steep uphill 5 hours walk to the summit.  We hacked our way through the drenched rainforest, over muddy and slippery trails to find ourselves 2 hours later at the summit of Salak Phet . Tears of joy: I made it and how: Kapkun Krap. 

On that hill in Thailand I made a big decision.  I was going to claim my old life back. For the first time in 3 years I accepted that I was sick. I accepted that whatever ruined my life did not destroy me. I realized that what is broken can be mended.  Hardly home I stepped into my fysio's kabinet and said: "When do we start". He immediately knew I was dead serious and answered: "Right away." We picked up where we left off, working on my dream to stand on the summit of an 8000 meter giant. 

15 March 2015 after 3,5 years of rehab, together with Sofie and Stef I climbed the Dreiländerspitze (3197m) in Austria. It was a great feeling to be back. For me this was the confirmation that I regained control over my life and body. It meant that I was more then just someone with a crippled hand and a paralyzed foot and leg. I wanted to show that with willpower and hard work you can come a long way. It also meant that I was ready for something much bigger. I conquered this Everest on to the next one. Makalu here I come.

 

On April 5 2015, together with 5 other Belgians, I went to Nepal to make an attempt to climb Makalu (8463 m) without supplemantel  oxygen. During the trek we encountered some of the baddest weather that ever occurred in the region over the last years.  Snow rain wind mist we had it all. It was only when we arrived in Hillary basecamp @4900m that the sun broke through the clouds and we had our first glimpse Makalu.

Considering the circumstances, I was doing extremely well, the leg held out and the acclimatization process went as planned. Although the day we went from Hillary base camp to ABC was my worst day ever, one to forget ;-)  and thanks to the moral support of Koen Verschraegen I made it. From then on everything went surprisingly well, without any problem I acclimatized to the ever getting thinner air: no headaches, no nausea, good appetite. On the 4 may we reached camp 2 @ 6650m.

 

The next day we descended in bad conditions back to ABC to take some rest days and to perform the Puja before pushing to camp 3. But on the 25 april 2015 at 11:56 something happened that we will remember for the rest our lives. The most devastating earthquake that Nepal ever encountered. The ground in basecamp shook for a minute resulting in a huge avalanche tumbling down from the face of Makalu and on the other side of basecamp parts of the glacier braking loose. No damage in basecamp as everything happened relatively far away. We knew that Hans Wenzl and another Austrian climber were still on the trail going up to camp 1. During the quake they were trapped between two avalanches while climbing the headwall. Everyone feared for them but they made ik back safe to ABC. 

Out of respect for the thousands of victims and their relatives, it was for me unthinkable to continue climbing. Abandoning was the only option. I was merely home as a second earthquake struck Nepal with the epicenter just 20 km from ABC, proven that the decision taken was the only correct one.

Although I was safe and sound back home, Nepal stayed on my mind. Together with some other climbers we set up a charity "Sheduwa 25/04". This charity raised about 20000 euro that we already partly invested in severals schools in the greater Sheduwa region.

Since my return from Makalu I had one thing on my mind. I wanted to return to Nepal and climb an 8000m peak. The last year my focus has been towards that one goal. I wasn't really sure what mountain it would be but I've made up my mind. Lhotse is the winner. I return to my initial dream from back in 2011. On the 2 november 2011 I summited Baruntse and the first thing I saw to my left was this impressive mountain. I knew immediatly that this would be my next one. A lot of things happened since then but now I'm back on track.

The first week of march 2017 I wrote a new chapter in my book. Together with Filip Top and David Wuyts I did a winter Atlas expedition. The aim summit as much as possible in 4 days. On average we did 6 summits each, among which Toubkal with its 4167m the highest mountain of Morocco and North Africa. It was a good week and I was ready for the big boy.

6 April 2017 time to wave goodbye once again. Since my return from Makalu in 2015 I've been preparing myself for this. I will attempt to climb Lhotse 8516m, Mount Everest sister mountain.  This with be a though challenge for me, my body and my leg. Mentally I knew I was ready for it, but physically I was doubting although I never felt this strong, not even in my healthy days. Over a period of seven months together with my coach Karel Pardaens (Back to basics in sports) and my fysio Caroline Raes we worked hard and pushed my limits. In the last 6 weeks we added an extra challenge : working out in the normobaric altitude chamber which allowed me to train up to 6000m.

During the base camp trek I met my teammates: 2 Norwegians, 1 Swede, 1 Scotsman and 2 Americans: 4 Everest and 3 Lhotse. 

19 May 2017 at 08:55 ,exactly 44 days after I left Flanders, I stood together with Karma Sherpa and my teammate Robert "The rocket" Nyberg on the summit of Lhotse and so becoming the first disabled climber ever to do so. For a moment I owned the world.