Climbers from the Flattest Country—4 Famous Dutchmen

When you con­sid­er the fact that “Nether­lands” lit­er­al­ly trans­lates to “Low Coun­try,” you prob­a­bly won’t be sur­prised to learn that the coun­try is not a hotspot of inter­na­tion­al climb­ing fame. Not only is the high­est point in the coun­try bare­ly over 1,000 feet, but also a sig­nif­i­cant amount is below sea lev­el. How­ev­er, the Dutch have been a deter­mined group of peo­ple through­out his­to­ry, and they have become quite famous mer­chants, sailors, and engi­neers. This has car­ried over to a few moun­taineers mak­ing names for themselves.


Ronald Naarronald_naar
He has the rep­u­ta­tion as being the most famous adven­tur­er to ever come out of the Nether­lands. Being born in a flat city named The Hague didn’t dis­cour­age him from aspir­ing to the tops of peaks. His climb­ing obses­sion real­ly began in the 1970s, and he made the first ascents of many major moun­tains, includ­ing the famous Sev­en Sum­mits, by any Dutch­man. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, much of his inter­na­tion­al fame came from an expe­di­tion he was lead­ing on Mount Ever­est, where he ordered a guide to be left for dead. His jus­ti­fi­ca­tion was that the man knew the risks he had signed up for, and the rest of the team would be in dan­ger try­ing to save him. Naar him­self lat­er per­ished in 2011 while attempt­ing to climb a Tibetan mountain.


Wilco van Rooi­jenwilco van rooijen
This is anoth­er mod­ern climber who got caught up in a fatal cat­a­stro­phe on one of the world’s tallest peaks. The sum­mer of 2008 saw 11 climbers from dif­fer­ent expe­di­tions lose their lives on the slopes of K2. Wilco van Rooi­jen was a mem­ber of a Dutch team who saw chaos ensue at a dan­ger­ous alti­tude above a bot­tle­neck. For­tu­nate­ly, not only did he sur­vive, but he also pub­lished a book to share the sto­ry with the world.


Jan Carsten­szoon
Carsten­szoon wasn’t a moun­tain climber, but he had in influ­en­tial impact on climb­ing his­to­ry. In real­i­ty, he was a 17th cen­tu­ry Dutch explor­er who led and par­tic­i­pat­ed in expe­di­tions in the Aus­tralia region for the Dutch East India Com­pa­ny. In 1623, he spot­ted a moun­tain so large that it con­tained snow on it, but this tale was too ridicu­lous to be believed back in Europe. No one thought that glac­i­ers could exist so near the equa­tor. It turns out that they had found Indone­si­a’s Mount Carsten­sz, which is also known as Pun­cak Jaya, and is one of the famous Sev­en Summits.


Anton Col­i­jn

anton colijn
Expe­di­tion to Carsten­szge­bergte in New Guinea, 1936. Anton Col­i­jn, Frits Exchange and Jean Jacques Dozy. Pho­to: http://www.geheugenvannederland.nl/

For years, no one was able to deter­mine which of the three sum­mits of the afore­men­tioned Mount Carsten­sz was the high­est. To solve this prob­lem, the Dutch Carsten­sz Expe­di­tion attempt­ed to climb all three of them in 1936. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the expe­di­tion, which was led by Col­i­jn, only man­aged to get to the sum­mit of two, and the unreach­able peak, Carsten­sz Pyra­mid, actu­al­ly turned out to be the highest.