A Tough Break: A Project 50-in-50 Update


A change in plans

The last time we checked in with Michael Shelver and Patrick Mertes—the two mountaineers attempting to summit the 50 highest peaks in the United States in 50 days—they had climbed just High Point, New Jersey. Since that summit, the journey has been rockier than desired. This is because two weeks ago, the duo found themselves in the midst of a medical emergency.

Michael took a serious fall as he and Patrick were descending Granite Peak, their 36th climb on this amazing journey. Both the ascent and descent saw the guys encountering a lot more snow than they had anticipated, making the climb especially treacherous and taxing. The injury didn’t have anything to do with diabetes, but was just “a result of the inherent risks associated with mountaineering,” according to Patrick. Thankfully, Michael was quickly discharged from the hospital. He did suffer a fracture and is set to undergo physical therapy.

“Best case scenario, Michael is ready to tackle the remaining eight Class I climbs within the next few weeks and we further assess his progress before looking at the other six Class II+ climbs. We are both determined to finish the Project in full,” Patrick said.

If there’s anything most people with diabetes learn at one point or another, it’s that medical complications and unforeseen circumstances can arise when you least expect them to. Whether that comes in the form of issues with management or a physical injury like Michael’s, it’s all about how you respond to the situation. These guys, like so many others with type 1 diabetes (T1D), are no strangers to difficulty and perseverance, and we’re excited to see them complete this project.

The journey resumes

The guys are now reunited once again, with Michael joining in on traveling from peak to peak for the time being, while Patrick and volunteer climbers have taken to doing the actual ascents. The group conquered Mount Whitney on August 7th, marking the 41st summit reached on the journey. For the climb, Michael served as base camp manager, while Patrick and a group of 12 other climbers (including several of Michael’s family members and a number of people with type 1) took to completing the peak. Over the course of the trip, they gained 6500 feet of elevation, trekking more than 26 miles before reaching the top. Mount Whitney sits at a lofty 14,505 feet, but was no match for this group.

With only nine ascents left, the guys are still within the realm of meeting their goal of 50 summits in 50 days, both because they made great time leading up to Michael’s accident and because Patrick has since taken over and completed a few peaks on his own. Beyond Type 1 is excited to check in with the guys again in anticipation of the completion of 50-in-50.

WRITTEN BY Jordan Dakin, POSTED 08/08/19, UPDATED 11/12/22

Jordan recently graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles after earning her BA in English and Film Studies. She is a passionate storyteller, traveler and lover of people and hopes to use her experience working in tech and as a writer to advocate for the BT1 community. In her spare time, she also enjoys hiking, karaoke and cooking for friends. Check her out on Instagram: @jordanemilydakin.