Updated: Kuwaiti Mountaineer Completes Volcanic Seven Summits

Kuwaiti mountaineer Yousef Al-Refai has become just the 24th person to climb each continent’s tallest volcano. Although the Volcanic Seven Summits do not enjoy the same notoriety as the Seven Summits, ascending to their seven calderas is an even rarer achievement.

Early reports suggested that the Kuwaiti was the youngest person to complete the circuit. However, reader James Stone, who maintains a list of all successful volcanic seven summiters, pointed out to ExplorersWeb that one of the very first summiters, Crina Popescu of Romania, was just 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 in Antarctica’s Marie Byrd Land. It took the team seven hours to push from their camp at 3,000m to the crest of the caldera.

In a report to the Kuwait News Agency, Al-Refai stated that climbing Sidley was relatively easy and non-technical, “but the extreme cold is the factor of difficulty. We had to carry our luggage in the backpack, weighing 15kg, while the other part was in the sled, which weighed 25kg.”

The sun may still have been out at the time of his team’s ascent, but the temperature stood at -35˚C.

Aerial image of Mount Sidley caldera. Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Aerial image of Mount Sidley, Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Yousef Al-Refai’s volcanic journey

The Volcanic Seven Summits is a relatively young circuit, first accomplished by Italian Mario Trimeri and Romanian Crina Popescu in 2011.

Al-Refai began his own Volcanic Seven journey a few years after Timeri and Popescu’s completion of it, and nearly six years to the day before his final ascent in Antarctica. He logged each of the Volcanic Seven Summits 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 Al-Refai’s summit, two more have joined the still-rare list of those who have completed the circuit. Below, James Stone’s complete list of summiters:

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing. In 2020, Jilli left her corporate position to pursue an outdoor-oriented life. She now works as a contributor, an editor, and a gear tester for ExplorersWeb and various other outlets within the AllGear network. She is based out of Austin, Texas where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.


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Jaroslav Flidr
Jaroslav Flidr
3 months ago
  • Mount Elbrus, Russia – July 18, 2018
  • Mount Giluwe, Papua New Guinea – July 21, 2018

Is it possible?

Jerry Kobalenko
Admin
3 months ago
Reply to  Jaroslav Flidr

Surely not, but those are the dates that all the sources list. We’ve reached out to Yousef Al-Refai for a correction.

Fahad A A
Fahad A A
3 months ago
Reply to  Jaroslav Flidr

This is what he posted on his page
– Kilimanjaro (December 30, 2015)
– Elbrus (July 18, 2017)
– Giluwe (July 21, 2018)
– Pico de Orizaba (January 6, 2019)
– Damavand (August 11, 2019)
– Ojos Del Salado (January 15, 2020)
– Sidley (December 22, 2021)

Jerry Kobalenko
Admin
3 months ago
Reply to  Fahad A A

Thank you, corrected.

Praeriepanther
Praeriepanther
3 months ago

“ascending to their seven calderas is a demanding lifetime achievement that few can claim” Surely not because it’s so difficult but because it costs a big bucket of dollars to travel around the world. Every third person on Earth would be capable to pull it off given the proper funding.This is another PR-based adventure series that has nothing to do with exploration or real mountaineering difficulties. The real question would be whether Mr. Al-Refai did this all on his own or guided. Because the latter information is usually left out of the press releases. Considering all of the above, being… Read more »