The mountaineer Alfa Karina Arrué is the first Salvadoran to conquer the top of Mount Everest

Historical! Alfa Karina Arrué has written the greatest and most glorious page of national mountaineering, since this Wednesday (Thursday in Nepal) she became the first Salvadoran person to reach the top of Mount Everest.

Hello El Salvador! I have good news for you, Alfa Karina Arrué became the first Salvadoran to summit Mount Everest (8848.86 m) this morning. CONGRATULATIONS! ”, She published the Twitter account @EverestToday that makes the promotions official.

Arrué, who had financial support from the National Sports Institute of El Salvador (INDES), conquered Everest on his second attempt, since last year the harsh weather conditions only allowed him to exceed 8,000 meters above sea level.

Congratulations to Alfa Karina Arrué, the first Salvadoran to reach the top of Mount #Everest (8,848.86 m), the highest mountain in the world!” added the @EverestToday account, reaffirming the news.

His story

Arrué was born on April 22, 1976, she is originally from Santa Tecla and her parents are Héctor Valle and Raquel Arrué de Valle. She is the oldest of three siblings and she defines her childhood as a happy stage. “She was a very restless and active girl, that’s why I have many scars,” she says.

During her childhood, Alfa Karina belonged to the scout movement and that is how she had her first contact with the mountains. The ascent to El Boquerón de San Salvador was his first step. “For me, that experience was like wow! That was how I got to know the mountains, we also went to Montecristo, then we did a long walk from Zaragoza to the San Antonio waterfalls, in La Libertad”, she recalls.

Already in adolescence, sports activities increased, since she spent approximately five hours doing various physical activities, including: running, playing basketball and surfing, in which she was involved for almost four years.

Then came a new stage in his life: he entered the José Simeón Cañas Central American University to study Legal Sciences. Her university studies forced her to pause her sports activities and opened the doors to love, since she met who would be the father of her three children.

“For me, being a mother is the most beautiful thing that could happen to me. I love everything, my role as a mother, I love my children, what’s more, I wanted to have five children, but I couldn’t because all my pregnancies were high-risk”, recalls the mountaineer.

Not everything was rosy. After eight years of marriage, Alfa Karina and her husband made the decision to divorce. “That was not among my plans, because when you get married you don’t do it with that intention, but I’ve learned that everything happens for a reason and now I’m here,” reflects Arrué.

Even that chapter of her life led her to fall into a severe depression, but she drew strength from weakness and knew how to recover.

“I had a difficult time after the divorce. I got super depressed, but then I thought that my children couldn’t see me like that, I couldn’t be an example of defeat especially for girls, so that’s where I started to get up and look for activities to rediscover myself, “recalls the athlete.

After hitting rock bottom emotionally, Alpha Karina fell in love at first sight with the mountains. And it is that the athlete she recognizes that in each ascent made she felt that her personal burden, her fears and pain were diminishing, so she fell in love with mountaineering.

your social work

Alfa Karina is a lawyer and notary. She graduated in 2002 from the José Simeón Cañas Central American University. Then, in 2008, she completed a specialization in Local Development at the Pablo de Olavide University, in Spain, to which is added a master’s degree in Constitutional Law and Human Rights.

“I have always worked hard in the fields, in rural areas, and it is the greatest satisfaction I have. I like to develop projects in rural areas for women”, she detailed.

She currently works independently giving consultancies on support programs for women, social reintegration programs and art programs.

Why climb Everest?

Arrué has been preparing for more than six years. Since that day that she decided to get rid of her emotional burden and committed herself to giving her best on each mountain, her goal of climbing the highest peak in the world was clearer.

Mount Everest has been called “The roof of the sky”, since with its 8,849 meters above sea level it is considered the highest mountain in the world and belongs to the exclusive list “The 14 eight thousand”, in which all the summits that measure more than eight thousand meters.

To date there is a record that five Salvadorans have already tried: Camila Palomo, Connie Sol and Adriana Sol in 2018, while Liss Nieto and Eduardo Nieto tried in 2019, however, they only managed to reach the South Base Camp of Mount Everest ( 5,364 meters above sea level) in Nepal, where you can access it by doing tourist trekking, without the need for a professional mountaineer’s permit.

That is why Arrué, who announced in 2015 that she would be the first Salvadoran to try to climb to the summit of Mount Everest, wants to make history and join the select group of women who have managed to reach the top of Everest.

“Mountaineering has created challenges for me and that has made me work much harder, in relation to the other sports I practiced. I know that all sports need discipline and effort, but particularly this one, because of the conditions in which I started it and where it got me from, I fell in love”, Karina expresses.

For Arrué, Everest has become a personal challenge that has required more than six years of sacrifice, persistence, a lot of physical conditioning and a lot of mental strength.

In this stage of preparation, Alfa Karina has ascended important summits in America, such as: Cerro Aconcagua, in Argentina (6,982 masl), the Chimborazo Volcano, in Ecuador (6,268 masl), and the Nevado Pisco, in Peru (5,752 masl). In addition, he has climbed the Citlaltépetl Volcano in Mexico (5,650 meters above sea level) eight times.

“Of the 14 eight thousand, Everest is a milestone. If you manage to do this summit, then you are sure that you can do the others that are lower than Everest. Of course, it does not mean that they are easier, because they are more technical, but the conditions faced at the summit of Everest make it the most difficult, “explained Arrué.

The first time

Alfa Karina Arrué first attempted to climb to the top of Mount Everest last year; however, she was 800 meters from achieving her goal, as she reached field four of the South Col, at 8,063 meters above sea level, but being at -46 degrees Celsius and with winds of 150 kilometers per hour, made her give up and descend.

On that occasion, Arrué left the country on March 22 and settled in base camp on April 11. From there he made two attacks to become the first Salvadoran person to reach the top of Mount Everest.

On her first try, a storm trapped Alpha Karina in the middle of an immense wall of ice. “Never in my life have I been afraid of dying. Until that day. See how terrible the storm. She wasn’t looking at anything, just the rope. And if she stopped moving me, she was going to freeze to death.”

As stated before, Arrué was close to completing his goal, but weather conditions prevented him from doing so. “In 10-12 hours I reached the summit. I have cried so much, but God always knows the best”, reflected Arrué on that occasion.

full support

Now, unlike last year, Alfa Karina Arrué faced this challenge with the full support of INDES and this, added to the experience gained last year, resulted in the final result that it achieved its objective.

“I am excited, happy, asking God and the mountain for that window of good weather that allows us to reach the top. I also feel confident, I feel that everything has flowed and has been natural and nothing has been forced”, said Arrué before leaving on March 30 for Nepal.

For this journey, INDES provided $60,000 dollars to the Salvadoran Federation of Mountaineering and Climbing to cover all the expenses that the mountaineer would incur on her journey, including: sports equipment, communication, visa, insurance, airfare, food, contingencies, among others.

“Alfa Karina is an example for our society, an example of tenacity, of overcoming for Salvadoran women,” said Yamil Bukele, honorary president of INDES, at the time of announcing the support for the athlete.

Prior to his trip, Arrué carried out a series of training sessions to arrive in optimal conditions for the challenge that awaits him in Nepal, since he knows perfectly those aspects that he had to strengthen in order to reach the top of Everest.

In this way, the mountaineer made technical ascents and rope climbs in Bolivia and Ecuador; She then traveled to Chile to climb the Ojos del Salado Volcano (the highest in the world), she did the challenges in Cerro el Brujo and the Ilamatepec volcano here in El Salvador; In Mexico and Chile she worked on physical resistance, and she finished her preparation in Colombia by working on strength and resistance.

The conquest

Arrué left El Salvador on March 30 and his route was El Salvador-Miami-Doha-Nepa, where he arrived on April 1. From there he boarded an internal flight from Kathmandu to Lukla and thus began his ascent to base camp (5,364 masl), which he arrived on April 11.

From there, the Salvadoran did a series of training sessions in Khumbu and climbed Lobuche Mountain (6,000 masl), two climbing drills that helped her adapt to the climate and altitude.

Later, once her body had adapted to these extreme conditions, Arrué successfully completed her rotation from Base Camp to Camps 1, 2 and 3 on Mount Everest from April 25 to May 1, with which she was prepared for his final challenge: attacking the summit of the Roof of the World.

“Now to wait for what the mountain experts say, to see when the route to the summit will open with the first window of good weather,” the mountaineer had announced on May 1.

And finally the big day arrived. On May 7, Arrué announced that he had started the ascent to the top of Mount Everest and today, 5 days later, the news was confirmed that the Salvadoran achieved a historic milestone for mountaineering in our country.

But that’s not all: in addition to being the first Salvadoran person to reach the top of Mount Everest, Alfa Karina joined the select group of Central American mountaineers who have achieved that feat.

In this way, Arrué becomes the third Central American woman to summit Everest, since to date only the Guatemalans Andrea Cardona (at the third attempt) and Bárbara Padilla (at the fourth attempt) had achieved it.

“This dream came to me when I realized that we are one of the few countries in the world that have not reached the top of Everest. Then this goal became something collective because it will be a milestone for the country and I want to be an inspiration for new generations that can achieve great things”, the mountaineer had said and today she has achieved it.

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