Mountaineer spends 32 days on 'roof of Mexico'

Feat is a personal challenge to show that women can do extraordinary things, says Perla Tijerina

By AFP

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Mexican mountaineer Perla Tijerina takes a selfie on top of the Pico de Orizaba volcano, where she spent 32 days. — AFP
Mexican mountaineer Perla Tijerina takes a selfie on top of the Pico de Orizaba volcano, where she spent 32 days. — AFP

Published: Fri 21 Apr 2023, 4:04 PM

Last updated: Fri 21 Apr 2023, 4:05 PM

A Mexican mountaineer has spent 32 days living at 5,636 meters (18,491 feet) above sea level on North America's tallest volcano, known as the "roof of Mexico."

Perla Tijerina, 31, left the summit on Thursday and began descending Pico de Orizaba, the country's highest peak, according to a video posted on her Instagram account.

The feat was a "personal challenge" to show that women can "do extraordinary things," Tijerina said in messages to AFP hours before going down the volcano, which is also known as Citlaltepetl.

Tijerina documented the challenge on her social media accounts using her cellphone, solar chargers and batteries brought up the peak by other climbers.

She posted majestic images of the snow-covered summit, sunrise on a clear day, the moonlit night, as well as her difficulties cooking and her tent shaking in a storm.

"I've been with nature, with God, with myself. This place is magical," she said.

Before attacking the summit of Pico de Orizaba, Tijerina spent a week acclimatizing at altitudes of 3,000 and 5,000 meters.

The world of mountaineering is dominated by those who climbed a peak first, fastest, the most times or found a new route up, but records of staying at height are scarce.

According to specialized publications, Spanish mountaineer Fernando Garrido holds the world record for spending 62 days at 6,961 meters on Argentina's Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas, in 1986.

Tijerina is now planning training expeditions in Bolivia, Peru and Chile later this year.

Her dream is to summit one of the world's 14 mountains taller than 8,000 meters without supplementary oxygen.

Pakistan's 8,611-meter K2, the world's second-highest mountain, "is my biggest dream," Tijerina said.

She spent eight months in Ecuador preparing to climb the 8,201-meter Cho Oyu in the Himalayas, but hypoxia -- low blood oxygen levels -- forced her to return home.

Mexico has a history of producing great mountaineers.

Carlos Carsolio was the fourth person -- and first non-European -- to climb the 14 eight-thousand-meter peaks between 1985 and 1996, while Elsa Avila became the first Latin American woman to summit Everest in 1999.


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