Tico climber to hike to the Top of the World

March 16, 2012

From the print edition

Escazú native Warner Rojas hopes that in coming months he will become the first Costa Rican to reach Mount Everest, the world’s highest mountain at 8,800 meters. To give the matter a local perspective, Everest is more than twice the height of Costa Rica’s tallest peak, Mount Chirripó, and just under the cruising altitude of a commercial jet headed for Juan Santamaría International Airport.

Rojas has already gathered his equipment and is leaving the country Friday, headed for Kathmandu, Nepal. He will then spend a few days preparing before ascending to base camp in early April at the foot of the colossal mountain. 

From May 5-25, Rojas said he and his expedition will wait for the proper window of weather and make a push for the summit, where he hopes to have the opportunity to pin the Costa Rican flag. He said the best weather in the Himalayas is usually in May and June.

Rojas is travelling with a group of seven climbers. A seasoned mountain climber who has climbed Everest five times will lead them, Rojas said. He will also have the assistance of a Sherpa, a Tibetan who lives on Everest’s high southern slopes in eastern Nepal. 

Rojas said the expedition will cost $80,000, which is covered by sponsors. The National Insurance Institute is contributing to the cause.

In preparing for the grueling climb, 39-year-old Rojas has been on a recent tour of Andean peaks, but said Everest is a totally different mountain. He said no matter how much preparation goes into the feat, a lot is left up to chance, including weather and how one’s body reacts to the frigid cold temperatures and high altitude. 

President Laura Chinchilla met with Rojas Wednesday to wish him luck and bid him farewell on his journey. She signed the flag that – if all goes well – will be placed at the summit.

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