Conquering New Heights with Type 1 Diabetes: Project 50 in 50

Conquering New Heights with Type 1 Diabetes: Project 50 in 50

In the summer of 2019, athletes Patrick Mertes and myself will be launching Project 50-in-50, an attempt to climb the tallest peaks in each state of the US. We’ll be doing this all while managing our type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease where the pancreas no longer produces insulin, a vital hormone for delivering energy to the body. A little over 300 people, nicknamed “Highpointers” have completed all 50, usually over the course of their lifetime. We’ll be doing it in 50 days or less. Yup, that’s right- 50 summits. 50 states. 50 days.

But Why? We’re submitting ourselves to a 50-day endurance challenge to prove that anything is possible with type 1 diabetes. During the trip, as well as the months leading up to it, we’ll give an unfiltered view into how we do everything showing “real world diabetes” and how we navigate the highs and lows that come with it. We hope our unedited documenting of the trip inspires others to live active outdoor lifestyles with their diabetes.  With both of us finding that more time outside equals a huge boost in happiness as well as better diabetes management, we’ll be inviting diabetics as well as any of those that support our mission to join us in hiking the peaks with the hope of inspiring them to get outside and do it more often. Using GPS live tracking and social media platforms we’ll keep our followers up to date and invite them to hikes and pop up events to form a close community of peak baggers, all thriving with diabetes. During these events we’ll be sharing out experiences and are excited to hear from those who join us about theirs!

How will we do it? The trip all begins with our hardest peak, Denali, in Alaska. We’ll be heading out mid-June of 2019 to make our way to the top at over 20,000ft, navigating crevasses, extreme cold, and technical climbing. With the timer officially starting when we hit the summit, we’ll ski down and get on the next plane off the glacier, hopefully get a shower in and then fly our way to Hawaii. After summit Hawaii’s high point and maybe a quick dip in the ocean, we head to the East coast where the 16,000-mile road trip begins! From there, it becomes a blur of climb, sleep, eat, climb, sleep, eat, as we’ll be going non-stop (except to meet with our cool people who are hiking with us!). Whether it’s day or night, as soon as we reach the trailhead, we’ll be off: hiking, running, climbing or skiing our way to the summit. Moving from East to West, we’ll tick off the summits as fast as possible and hope to end on Mt. Whitney before our 50-day timer is up!

With constant exercise, diabetes management will be one of the toughest parts of our trip. We’ll be using Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitors to keep an eye on our blood sugar 24/7 throughout the expedition as well as Epson sports watches to monitor our heart rate and physical activity level to make sure we’re getting in enough food and sleep to keep going for the full 50 days.

Want to support our journey? Consider becoming a sponsor for our trip. Or, if you’d like to support us in other ways- meet us out there! If you’re someone who adventures outside (or wants to start) we want to meet YOU at your local high point! #Project50in50 can show you that anything is possible! Follow us on Instagram  and Facebook to get updates on the project that launches next summer. I’ll see you at the top!


Michael Shelver, 2018 Headsweats Ambassador


For detailed project overview and sponsorship information: The Diabetes Family Connection


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