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Meet the first guy scaling all the 7 summits – from sea level

SuuntoRun — 21 March 2016

High school teacher Dave Williams is attempting to become the first person to scale the highest summits of the seven continents by starting at sea level and running to each mountain.

Dave on his hike from the Black Sea to Mt Elbrus in Russia. ©

When Dave Williams isn’t teaching at a high school in Auckland, New Zealand, he’s doing one of two things: running or eating.

“I run a half marathon in morning and a half marathon in the evening, which has made the necessary training feasible while working full time,” Dave says. “Keeping the weight on has been hard even though I eat eight meals a day.”

On the summit of Kilamanjaro. ©

Dave has completed sea to summits on the highest mountains of four continents – Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus and Kosciuszko – and is about to set off to Alaska for a five-week expedition to make his attempt on Denali – the highest mountain in North America. Starting on April 19, he will run 350 km from Anchorage to the road end. 

“It will take five marathons to run to the road end, then a three day trek to the base of the glacier, then a nine day trek up the glacier to the base camp, then another two weeks to the summit,” he says. “One of the biggest challenges I've faced during preparation is to build the required fat and muscle stores while simultaneously increasing my fitness and running over 100 km per week. I predict I will lose up to 10 kg during the five weeks of adventuring.”

On the way to the summit of Aconcagua. ©

Later this year he will be heading to Antarctica to make a sea to summit attempt on Mt Vinson. He’s saving the best to last, however. In 2018 he will begin running from Kolkata, India, doing 32 marathons in 30 days, to Everest base camp and then climb the highest mountain in the world.

“I enjoy climbing more than the running,” he says. “Running is more repetitive. “When I start running I know I’ve got the best to look forward to. The finale is the climb.”

The 30-year-old outdoor education teacher began his Sea2Summit7 project in 2013 after two friends committed suicide due to long battles with depression. The loss got him thinking about depression and what he could do to help.

“I had an epiphany while doing a sea to summit adventure in New Zealand,” Dave says. “I thought I could do same thing on the 7 Summits and raise money for the Mental Health Foundation.”

Success at last! ©

He’s raised $5,400USD so far and, incredibly, has paid for most of the project out of his own pocket, investing $50,000NZD ($34,000USD) until now.

The first mountain of the project, Aconcagua, was the most difficult. He failed twice. On the first attempt in July 2014, a storm hit on his summit attempt and climbers he had met earlier died on the mountain. On the second attempt his body gave out on the climb and he had to call it off. Finally, in January 2016, everything came together and he summited Aconcagua.

“The thing that always keeps me going is receiving personal messages from people who have been following the project and who say I’ve inspired them to get off the couch,” he says.

Dave hopes he has to run to Denali only the once.

“Sea2Summit7 is all about never giving up and calling on friends to help when you are feeling fragile," Dave says. “This time I have an awesome expedition team of five who will be fulfilling specific roles along this journey so it is feasible and safe.”