JEDDAH: Saudi athlete, adventurer and entrepreneur Badr Al-Shaibani has climbed the highest mountain peaks of all seven continents, finishing 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 are comprised of 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 to finish the Seven Summits is great because it was a long time in the making. I’m incredibly fortunate to have the ability to go to these places.”
Al-Shaibani posted his journey to his thousands of followers and supporters on Twitter and Instagram.
Describing his feeling to Arab News after his achievement, he said: “(The) last steps before I stepped on the summit of Denali and finished 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.
“Volatile weather, cold, wind, tired, danger, effort, time, pressure, tension, and all of this crossed my mind. Seven years since I started taking on this challenge and a tape of memories from different mountains, I see it in front of 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 raised the Saudi flag on Kilimanjaro.
“My goal was to finish the Seven Summits in 2022,” he said.
“It all began seven years ago when I attended a workshop by a motivational speaker in Dubai, and I remember when he said that most people are sitting in their comfort zone doing the same things every day. As an adventurer himself, he motivated us to leave this comfort zone and start to search for an adventure and reach the top mountains.
“So, I decided to go to Africa and climb Mount Kilimanjaro. I really enjoyed it because I was disconnected from the whole world for two weeks, no phone … no people around you, and that was the turning point of my journey with climbing mountains.”
Going on mountaineering trips at every opportunity, Al-Shaibani began intentionally focusing on life outside of his comfort zone.
During his adventures, he was exposed to numerous challenges, with harsh weather conditions a particular feature. Temperatures during his exploits regularly dropped below -30 C.
Al-Shaibani noted that it took him 60 days to climb Everest and that he went to Denali immediately after that because his body had become accustomed to the high peaks and the cold weather.
The Denali summit, which is 6,190 meters above sea level, proved to be one of the most challenging climbs Al-Shaibani has undertaken in his mountaineering career. His adventure was hampered by terrible weather conditions that exposed him to storms and wind speeds of 80 kilometers per hour. His success in the final stage of the Seven Summits climb would not have been possible without his patience, strong will, and determination.
He stated that his greatest achievement was the ascent to the summit of Everest due to the cold weather and climatic fluctuations, and the lack of oxygen due to the area’s altitude. He also mentioned that he saw the bodies of other adventurers in an area called the “death zone” due to this shortage.
“One of the most surreal memories I had is watching helicopters drop a long line of dead climbers off the mountain,” he said.
“Of course, sometimes when I sit with myself, I think so many times why I am doing this? I should be sitting home with my family … traveling with family. So, all these thoughts crossed my mind, but with my dedication and determination, I kept going,” he said.
The Minister of Sports Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal congratulated Al-Shaibani as he reached the top of Everest.
“He called me as I reached the top 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 to go higher, it means the moon or space. Definitely, it will be my next challenge, and I already signed myself for space astronaut training in Russia.”