Ligia Madrigal Conquers Everest: She is the First Costa Rican Woman to Reach the World`s Highest Peak

    Ligia Madrigal traveled to Nepal since mid-April for training, acclimatization and preparation that ended in the incredible feat

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    The Costa Rican athlete Ligia Madrigal, 51, reached the goal and this past Wednesday became the first woman from Costa Rica to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, in the Himalayan mountain range. The Tica level reached 8,848 meters around 5 in the afternoon Costa Rican time, 5 in the morning in Nepal.

    It was her husband, Federico Escalante, who confirmed it with a brief message: “I have arrived at Cima.”Minutes later he shared an official publication on Ligia’s social networks: “Today a dream comes true, the dream of a WOMAN, mother, wife, friend, tireless fighter!!With hearts full of pride, tears, and extreme emotion, we want as a family to make official that Ligia is the first Costa Rican woman to reach the TOP of the world!”

    The final tour began around 8:00 a.m. national time. It was through a geolocator and with a message from her husband that the news was confirmed on social networks.“And now LigiaMaría is going to the top! To try to reach the highest point on the planet, Everest,” wrote Federico Escalante from Costa Rica.

    This is how Madrigal left Campo 4 (7,906 meters) for its last meters of the journey, which can take between 9 and 12 hours.On Tuesday, the Costa Rican had crossed one of the most complicated stages of the expedition: the Lhotse Wall, a “brutal wall of glacial ice with slopes between 40% and 50% and with an ascent of 1,125 meters,” as stated by her husband.

    Ligia Madrigal traveled to Nepal since mid-April for the entire process of training, acclimatization and preparation for the feat this year.We only know of one precedent 13 years ago, when a Costa Rican woman tried but did not reach the goal. Ligia recognizes and highlights that effort.

    Warner Rojas, the first

    In that select list of people at the highest point on Earth there is only the national mountaineer, Warner Rojas, who conquered Everest on May 24, 2012. He also tried it last year but an edema, treated in time, prevented the feat but he was able to save his life.This year, chef and athlete Daniel Vargas also tried it but a similar health problem thwarted the plan and on Saturday he was hospitalized.

    Don’t give up

    The achievement of the Costa Rican, with almost 3 decades of doing high mountain sports, began to take shape more than 5 years ago. The first thing was strong training and the collection of resources for a first experience last year.

    At that moment, Ligia was about 800 meters away from reaching the summit, as they say in the discipline.Initially, Madrigal said on her social networks that the reason for giving up on her tour was related to “logistical problems,” but later, when speaking with several media outlets in Costa Rica, she told the real reason: her guide was not feeling well to the point that he lacked oxygen.

    Ligia related that the fact that her guide – or Sherpa, as they are known in the Himalayas – did not feel well to continue to the summit was a compelling reason that, furthermore, was not under her control.

    “There are some things that were under my control and others that were not. Unfortunately what prevented that final push from being given was out of my control.Since we left the field 3 to 4, my Sherpa Pemba began to show signs that he was not feeling well.He told me that the mask didn’t work for him, that he couldn’t breathe well. I said to myself that this was not right. Even though we arrived at camp 4 and everything was beautiful. That was the day I felt the best, the happiest day of the 40 days I was there.In peace I made the decision and decided that there was no attack on the summit. I’ve come this far, I said.I did my preparation work, but there was also the human part: my Sherpa, my half, was not well. I could have been the one who didn’t feel well. “We were both a team,” she said.

    But, 12 months ago, after that difficult moment, the Tica was convinced to try again.“During the process many times I thought that it was not for me and that it is very hard. In the end, since I made the decision in peace (not to attack the summit) and knowing that I have a greater capacity to think about solving, I return in one piece.I spoke with Fede (Federico Escalante, husband) and he told me: ‘of course, you have to come back.’ you have been growing: and have the equipment;and it worked for me, I know how to train and there are things I can improve.I have the support of the sponsors who believed in me after four years and who are happy… so let’s try it,” said Madrigal, her face lighting up with excitement.

    For this year, the TICA relied on its sponsors, its relatives and many Costa Ricans to finance the total cost of the expedition, which included a change in the agency to guarantee better care in the Himalayas and all logistics.

    Breaking the mold

    In 2023, the Tica did not hide the difficulties she faced at the time due to the lack of support and resources, for being a woman, in a non-traditional discipline, and with the stigma of being “only for men.”

    “One of the hardest things has been getting the budget. Being a woman and from a non-traditional sport, I have received rejection from many brands,” she said before leaving in April of last year.

    In the conversation, the Costa Rican, who is a mother, wife and professional in graphic design, recalled that some people did not believe in her but she always had the challenge of “breaking paradigms” in mountaineering and other sports.

    “Being a woman and not being a traditional sport, some people didn’t believe me. Are you going to do that? As I conquered the summits, people began to believe that I was really serious and that I was going all out to prepare myself,” said the Costa Rican.

    Her previous achievements are documented in different sports disciplines. Twice winner of the Chirripó race, with a women’s record for 5 years and 9 times on the podium in the women’s category.She was the first Tica to run the 100 miles and the first Central American woman to complete the 200 miles.

    In mountaineering, she accumulated the conquest of the French and Italian Alps, several volcanoes in Patagonia, the Pico de Orizaba (Mexico), the Acatenango volcano (Guatemala), as well as other summits in Bolivia, Argentina and Peru.

    Renewed in first experience

    Madrigal asserted last year, in her first attempt to conquer the top of the world, that Everest is a unique mountain, which represents unique challenges. She assured that no other summit she had climbed in the past teaches what it is like to experience on the highest peak in the world.

    “Only being there does one realize how this mountain is managed, how one survives. Nothing you have done in other mountains prepares you for this one.And there I learned in those 40 days that there are an incredible amount of details that can make the expedition successful or not, call it success, reaching the summit and returning.

    In the end, she felt grateful for what she experienced there on her first trip, especially because – she said – she came back renewed.“I feel good, I feel different. This has been a great learning experience. Being up there, exhausted and cold, I could only think about how lucky I was to have my family, my husband and my daughter. I only thought about them.Although I already knew this, being there you value much more what is really important, those people who love you, your close circle, and that you should not allow other people to affect you. I grew a lot as a human being,” Ligia Madrigal said a year ago.

    Now, success is confirmed and she is expected to return home soon in a matter of a few days to be reunited with her family. Her name is written in history as the first Tico woman “owner” of Everest.

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