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JEDDAH: Saudi athlete, adventurer and entrepreneur Badr Al-Shaibani has climbed the highest peaks of the seven continents, completing the Seven Summits series after reaching Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world at an altitude of 8,848 meters, in May.

The Seven Summits include Mount Denali in North America, Mount Aconcagua in South America, Mount Elbrus in Europe, Vinson Massif in Antarctica, Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, Everest in Asia and Mount Kosciuszko in Australia .

“It’s bittersweet,” he says of the overall experience, “but completing the Seven Summits is great because it took a long time. I’m incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to go to these places.

Al-Shaibani posted his journey to his thousands of followers and supporters on Twitter and Instagram.

Describing his feelings to Arab News after his achievement, he said: “(The) last steps before climbing to the summit of Denali and completing my Seven Summits challenge, I really had mixed emotions and feelings. It was a touching moment. I remembered the long hours of training and traveling to the different continents of the world.

“The volatile weather, the cold, the wind, the fatigue, the danger, the effort, the weather, the pressure, the tension, and all of that crossed my mind. Seven years since I started to take up this challenge and a cassette of memories from different mountains, I see it before my eyes. Praise Allah for safety and all thanks and gratitude to those who encouraged and motivated me.

The 42-year-old adventurer began his journey in 2015 when he hoisted the Saudi flag on Mount Kilimanjaro.

“My goal was to complete the Seven Summits in 2022,” he said.

“It all started seven years ago when I attended a workshop led by a motivational speaker in Dubai, and I remember when he said most people were sitting in their comfort zone doing the same things. As an adventurer himself, he motivated us to leave that comfort zone and start looking for adventure and reaching for mountain peaks.

“So I decided to go to Africa and climb Mt Kilimanjaro. I really enjoyed it because I was disconnected from all over the world for two weeks, no phone…nobody around, and it was been the turning point of my trip with climbing mountains.

Going on mountaineering trips at every opportunity, Al-Shaibani began to intentionally focus on living outside of his comfort zone.

During his adventures, he was exposed to many challenges, especially harsh weather conditions. Temperatures during his exploits regularly dropped below -30°C.

Al-Shaibani noted that it took him 60 days to climb Everest and he went to Denali immediately after that because his body got used to the high peaks and the cold.

Denali’s summit, which rises 6,190 meters above sea level, proved to be one of the toughest climbs Al-Shaibani has undertaken in his mountaineering career. His adventure was hampered by terrible weather conditions that exposed him to storms and 80 kilometer per hour winds. His success in the final stage of climbing the Seven Summits would not have been possible without his patience, will and determination.

He said his greatest achievement was climbing the summit of Everest due to the cold weather and climatic fluctuations, and the lack of oxygen due to the altitude of the region. He also mentioned seeing the bodies of other adventurers in an area called the “zone of death” due to this scarcity.

“One of the most surreal memories I have had is seeing helicopters dropping off a long line of dead climbers off the mountain,” he said.

“Of course, sometimes when I sit with myself, I wonder so often why am I doing this? I should be sitting at home with my family… traveling with my family. So all these thoughts have me crossed my mind, but with my dedication and determination, I carried on,” he said.

Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal congratulated Al-Shaibani as he reached the summit of Everest.

“He called me as I reached the summit of Everest, and I will always cherish that call,” he told Arab News.

As he conquered the Seven Summits, Al-Shaibani said his dream was not over yet.

“Nothing is higher than Everest, but going higher is the moon or space. That will definitely be my next challenge, and I have already signed up for space astronaut training in Russia.

Richard F. Gandhi