San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Tica to Tackle Highest Peak

Gineth Soto will begin her expedition to the top of the world on Apr. 10, becoming the first Costa Rican to take on the challenge.

If she summits Mount Everest, she will be only the second person from Central America, after Guatemalan Jaime Viñals, to achieve the feat.

Of the approximately 3,000 people who have reached the top of Everest, only around 150 have been women.

Soto, who was born in San José and grew up in Jacó but now lives in the United States, is climbing the mountain as part of her attempt at the Seven Summits. The pursuit of the highest peaks of all seven continents is a legendary mountaineering challenge, and Everest will be her sixth peak.

She already conquered Aconcagua in South America, Mount Elbrus in Europe, Kilimanjaro in Africa, Denali (MountMcKinley) in North America and MountKosciuszko in Australia.

However, climbing the 8,848-meter (29,028-foot) Everest is a lifelong dream and has always been her main goal.

“I started to prepare myself for Mount Everest and decided that climbing the other mountains that are part of the Seven Summits would be a great preparation for Everest,” she said in an exclusive interview with The Tico Times.

In recent months, Soto, 34, has been following a strict training regime, with cardiovascular workouts, weightlifting sessions, and regular climbing on Mount Shasta near her Californian home. She also enjoys running and completed the San Francisco marathon in the July 2007.

The training will prove vital in the unforgiving conditions on the Himalayas and given the sheer physical challenge of such expeditions. She will be ascending the north face of the mountain, and will be climbing for at least 18 hours on the day of the final push for the summit. In addition, she will be using bottled oxygen to achieve the feat, as oxygen levels at such altitudes are only a third of normal levels.

Nevertheless, at a press conference organized by her sponsor, Banco Nacional, Soto, who is 5 feet tall and weighs 115 pounds, told reporters, “I have spent four years waiting for this moment.

“I feel ready and prepared.”

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