Warner Rojas, the most accomplished mountaineer in Costa Rican history, carried the country’s flag to the top of Mount Elbrus, the tallest mountain in Russia and Europe, while his countrymen were celebrating Independence Day on Thursday.
Rojas took five days to acclimate to the high altitude before taking two more days to summit Mount Elbrus, which stands at 5,642 meters, or 18,510 feet.
“The weather was extremely cold, so much so that I couldn’t feel my toes for much of the time and I feared frostbite, though luckily nothing happened,” Rojas said.
As one of the Seven Summits, or the highest peaks on each continent, the mountain located in southern Russia is highly sought-after by professional mountaineers looking to go down the continental checklist. Rojas has also climbed the highest points in Asia (Mount Everest) and South America (Aconcagua in Argentina). In addition, the 44-year-old hiker from San Antonio de Escazú has tamed the tallest seven mountains in each of the Andean countries in South America.
He is currently on the tail end of a project to be the first person, along with Guatemalan climbing partner Jaime Viñals, to summit the 10 tallest volcanoes on the planet, which are all located in the Andes.
Rojas reached Elbrus’ peak at 11:34 p.m. Costa Rican time Thursday, just in time to make it on Independence Day. The Tico climber said he made the final push from base camp to the summit without help from a guide or other hikers, noting that almost no one on the mountain spoke Spanish or English.
After making his way down from the top, Rojas shared a message with his country on its special day: “We have a beautiful country and we need to take care of it for generations to come, for those yet to be born and for our children,” he said.
Rojas will return to Costa Rica on Sept. 29.
The Tico Times hiked with Rojas in January’s inaugural trek of the San Jerónimo trail up Cerro Chirripó, the highest peak in Costa Rica.