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Youngest Kuwaiti mountaineer achieves ‘GWR’

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Kuwait City: A Kuwaiti mountaineer has become the youngest person to climb the world’s Seven Volcanic Summits.

Yousef Al Refaie has set a Guinness World Record for reaching the top of the highest volcanoes on each of the seven continents at 24 years and 119 days.

“[If] you came from the desert, I wouldn’t think you [would] be able to climb the highest mountains,” he said of his feat.

Al Refaie, the 24th person to climb the peaks, began his journey as a tourist on December 30 2015 when he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

He then climbed Russia’s Mount Elbrus on July 18, 2017, Mount Giluwe Mountain in Papua New Guinea on July 21, 2018, Pico de Orizaba in Mexico on January 6, 2019, Iran’s Mount Damavand on August 11, 2019, Ojos Del Salado in the Andes on January 15, 2020, and Mount Sidley in the Antarctic on December 22, 2021.

He said the toughest was the 4,285m dormant Mount Sidley in Antarctica’s Marie Byrd Land, one of the largest uninhabited areas in the world. It took the team seven hours to push from their camp at 3,000m to the crest of the caldera.

It cost Mr Al Refaie and his friends around $60,000 to reach the summit.

“We were able to see sunlight, but the temperature was around minus-35˚C,” he said.

Each team member carried their own food despite eating at least three times a day, they constantly lost weight.

“We carried 27 meals each for this trip. Food alone was about 10kg in total. It was mainly dehydrated meals that are high in calories.”

He said he had previously attempted to break the record for the fastest climb of the Arabian Peninsula’s highest peaks, but, as with other challengers, he was not allowed to enter Yemen.

Al Refaie now wants to cross the largest deserts in the world, starting with the Empty Quarter in November.

“When I first asked my mum for the Guinness World Records Book as a kid, she told me she would only buy it if I had something amazing to make my way into it,” he said.

“I really don’t know if she meant it that time, but here we are living the dream.”

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