A 54-year-old Dutchman just climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro… in CLOGS?!

Crazy climber or clever clogs? 🧗‍♂️

You’d think climbing the highest mountain in Africa would be enough of a challenge. But what about taking on Mt. Kilimanjaro in wooden clogs? Fred Onderwater from South Holland stepped things up a notch.

As a 54-year-old, Fred, your clog climb has our respect. But we also have a few questions…

How did you tackle the crazy terrains? How are your feet holding up now? It’s hard to believe those whimsical wooden shoes lining Amsterdam’s tourist shops would survive the likes of the stark savannah, deep jungle, and some serious snow. 

But we shouldn’t be so quick to judge: Fred and his klompen embraced every landscape and survived wild temperature changes, he told indebuurt.nl.

Why choose such shoes?

A self-proclaimed clog lover since childhood, Onderwater has full faith in clogs’ functionality. He believes they “are comfortable to wear and they are sturdy.” 

READ MORE | Dutch Quirk #118: Not actually wear clogs (despite what the world thinks)

Onderwater wants clog sceptics to open their minds (and stretch out their toes) for a world of comfort awaiting them. 

His Kilimanjaro climb was already planned, but he decided to make a statement by giving your average trekking shoes the boot. 🥾

Onderwater dealt with doubters from the beginning. When his mountain guide saw the clogs, he was shocked, said Onderwater. “At first, he had no confidence at all. I did bring spare shoes, but I never needed them!”

Perhaps his venture was inspired by fellow daring Dutchie Wim Hof? 👇

Despite their unforgiving appearance, clogs are actually extremely durable — even the European Union has officially declared them as “safety shoes.”

The benefits don’t end there for this proud Dutchman and vegetarian, because these wooden warriors are all-natural and eco-friendly. It’s like embracing nature whilst wearing nature. 🌳

READ MORE | How do the Dutch feel about climate change?

The “Clog”father

Onderwater was joined on the trek by his two teenage daughters, Fientje and Hanne (who is now also an avid clog-wearer).

Together, they climbed Kilimanjaro in seven days, battling through snow storms and altitude sickness. 💪

But whilst his daughters suffered from hiking boot-induced blisters, Fred forged on in his clogs with no discomfort (as long as he was careful not to get them stuck between rocks).

If Fred wants fellow Dutchies to take one lesson from his clog slog, it’s to take more pride in the heritage shoe. 

READ MORE | Wait up: are Dutch clogs coming back into fashion?

He’s not asking everyone to follow exactly in his footsteps, but just to recognise them for the footwear extraordinaire they truly are. 🤝 

Did you have any idea of the clogs’ climbing capabilities? Share your thoughts on Fred’s story in the comments below.

Feature Image:DutchReview
Lottie Gale 🇬🇧
Lottie Gale 🇬🇧
Lottie joins DutchReview as an editorial intern after gaining a Bachelor’s in English from her native England. She continues to pursue all things literature in her MA Literature Today at Utrecht University. She is loving life here, and the ever-looming rainclouds often make it feel like a home from home. Lottie arrived to complete her studies and hone her writing skills — she’ll stay for the Dutch tranquility, tulips and tompouce.


  1. Impressive achievement and love the determination to climb in clogs because he believes in them. Purpose is so important for climbing Kilimanjaro. I climb every year with Kusudi La, a non-profit that uses purposeful adventure to raise funds for animal welfare. We carry a large toy dog to the summit to highlight our beneficiaries and for the extra challenge ourselves, but our purpose motivates us to keep going.


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