Kuwaiti mountaineer Yousef Al-Refai has become the 24th person to climb the highest volcano on each continent. Although the Seven Volcanic Summits do not enjoy the same notoriety as the Seven Summits, climbing their seven calderas is an even rarer achievement.
Early reports suggested the Kuwaiti was the youngest person to complete the circuit. However, reader James Stone, who maintains a list of all seven successful volcanic summitspointed out to ExplorersWeb that one of the very first summit attendees, Crina Popescu from Romania, was only 16 when she completed the list in 2011. Al-Refai is 24.
Al-Refai’s multicontinental project ended on December 22, 2021, atop Mount Sidley (4,285m), a dormant volcano on Marie Byrd Land in Antarctica. It took the team seven hours to push from their camp at 3,000m to the crest of the caldera.
In a report to Kuwait News Agency, Al-Refai said Sidley’s climb was relatively easy and non-technical, “but the extreme cold is the difficulty factor. We had to carry our luggage in the backpack, which weighed 15 kg, while the other part was in the sled, which weighed 25 kg.
The sun might still be out when his team climbed, but the temperature was -35˚C.
The Volcanic Journey of Yousef Al-Refai
The Volcanic Seven Summits is a relatively young circuit, made for the first time by the Italian Mario Trimeri and the Romanian Crina Popescu in 2011.
Al-Refai began his own Volcanic Seven journey a few years after Timeri and Popescu completed it, and almost six years to the day before his last ascent in Antarctica. He recorded each of the seven volcanic peaks in the following order:
- Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania – December 30, 2015
- Mount Elbrus, Russia – July 18, 2017
- Mount Giluwe, Papua New Guinea – July 21, 2018
- Pico de Orizaba, Mexico – January 6, 2019
- Mount Damavand, Iran – August 11, 2019
- Ojos del Salado, Argentina/Chile – January 15, 2020
- Mount Sidley, Marie Byrd Land – December 22, 2021
Since the summit of Al-Refai, two others have joined the still rare list of those who have completed the circuit. Below is the full list of James Stone peaks:
About the Author
Jilli grew up in the rural mountains of southern Colorado, before moving to Texas for college.
After seven years in business consulting, she took up sport climbing. In 2020, Jilli left her role with the company to pursue a life focused on the outdoors.
She now works as a contributor, writer and gear tester for ExplorersWeb and various other outlets within the AllGear network.
She’s based in Austin, Texas, where she sets up shop with her climbing gear and blue one-ear heel, George Michael.