Zed “Zeddy” Al-Refai, the first
Arab (Kuwaiti national) to successfully summit Mount Everest recently
conquered Europe’s toughest peak, the 4,477 meter high Matterhorn.
Sponsored by the luxury Seiler Hotel Mont Cervin Palace in
Zermatt, Southern Switzerland and Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS),
the country’s national carrier, the summiting comes after four
unsuccessful attempts at the mountain, which remained elusive due to dire
weather condition. With this latest success, Al-Refai aims to embark on a
region wide campaign to promote the sport of mountain climbing in the Arab
World and encourage younger generations to take on such adventures.
“Today the Matterhorn remains a
significant challenge that should never be underestimated by climbers, and
after four previous attempts, when the weather beat me each time, I am very
proud to announce that this time, I was successful,” commented Al-Refai after
his decent from the mountain. “With the completion of this climb, I plan to
take this great sport of mountain climbing to the younger generations of
Al-Refai plans to undertake
speaking opportunities at schools and universities around the region to shed
light on the ‘lonely’ and treacherous sport. He had already taken his
experiences to schools and scientific organizations in his home country,
Kuwait, which was met with great enthusiasm and excitement. The medium to long
term goal of this campaign is to establish an Arabian mountaineering club.
of Al-Refai’s success, Felix Rodel, Area Manager – Middle East, Pakistan and
Iran, SWISS, said: “This is an incredible feat and we are incredibly proud to
have been able to play our part in Zed’s quest for the summit of the
“The environmental and
geographical nature of the Middle East encourages plenty of young people to be
interested in the adventurous sport, but due to the lack of high mountains in
the region, such interest has been limited to hiking and trekking,” he
continued. “I am currently in talks with the Government of Pakistan,
represented by the Alpine Club of Pakistan and the Adventure Foundation of
Pakistan, to begin climbing circuits, aimed at Arab climbers in the
Al-Refai was recently honored
by the Alpine Club of Pakistan and the Adventure Foundation of Pakistan with
an honorary shield to commemorate his historic summiting of Mount Everest on
May 22nd 2003.
Before his success at the
Matterhorn, Al-Refai trained for a period of three months at Zermatt nestled
beneath the Matterhorn’s north face, close to the Swiss-Italian border. After
spending two days at the mountain’s base camp adjusting his body to the
altitude and waiting for an opening in the weather, Zed ascended the mighty
Matterhorn in an impressive 5 hours.
The Matterhorn however is a very
dangerous mountain to climb and its death rate remains one of the highest in
Accompanying Zed on the climb
were Paul Morse and Russell Brice, two legendary world renowned climbers.
Aside from the Carstensz Pyramid in Oceania, the Matterhorn is amongst the
most difficult mountains to climb requiring a high level of technical
expertise, physical and mental strength.
“We used special climbing
shoes with 12 millimeter teeth which are used to stick in the rocks and ice
while ascending the mountain, as well as 50 meter ropes and waist harnesses,”
Located in the Pennine Alps in
Switzerland and first conquered in 1865 by Edward Whymper, the Matterhorn is a
classic peak, a sharp, isolated rock pyramid with steep narrow ridges jutting
from surrounding glaciers, making it one of the most recognizable mountains in
the world. The unforgettable and unique shape of the Matterhorn has long
inspired painters, photographers, climbers and nature lovers, and even
marketers who have used the shape to represent business logos.
The thirty-seven year old
Dubai-based Kuwaiti businessman is the first Arab, and among the first 80
people in the world to conquer the 7 highest summits on the seven continents.
This historical achievement includes, Kilimanjaro in Africa (5896 meters),
Denali - Mount McKinley in North America (6195 meters), Elbrus in Europe (5633
meters), Aconcagua in South America (6962 meters), Carstensz Pyramid in
Oceania (4884 meters), Vinson in Antarctica (4897 meters) and Everest in Asia
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