HAWAII KAI, Hawaii (KHON2) — A man going up the Koko Crater Stairs does not usually make the news, but 40 times in a row?

It is a feat that 31-year-old Nicholas “Nico” Escobar worked to accomplish on Wednesday, Aug. 24.

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Escobar celebrated his 31st birthday with a massive challenge: climbing 33,500 feet, or the same elevation from the sea floor to the summit of Mauna Kea.

He initially planned to take 37 back-to-back trips to the top of the popular Hawaii Kai hike and first set foot on the trail at midnight on Wednesday, but just after 5 p.m. he said he would go for 39.

A feat like this took a village in between each hike.

“We rub him down with some zinc, we ice all of his extremities, we give him anything he wants to eat or drink,” said Laura Aldea, Escobar’s friend and supporter. “Some of the team putting ice in his hat, inside his sleeves, down his shirt. He’s definitely heating up out there.”

Escobar prepared for most of 2022 and a manager of the Uloha hiking store knew it.

“If anyone’s going to do it, it’s Nico.”

Matthew Sorenson, Uloha manager

Anyone who has hiked Koko Head will admit that is a big physical challenge, but it becomes a mental accomplishment once a hiker gets to more than a few trips up and down the massive stairway. That is the entire point of Escobar’s feat; to raise awareness and money for mental health.

“Exercise was originally — I guess for me — my whole life has been my way of coping with mental health,” Escobar said. “But this one, this one here is more about my friends, more about everything going on around me.”

Escobar partnered with Mental Health America of Hawaii and — keeping the elevation of Mauna Kea in mind — hopes to raise $33,500.

“It would be better if we could be more open with each other,” Escobar said.

“Especially, you know, right after COVID, as COVID is wrapping up and whatnot, mental health is so important and I think that people are realizing that more than ever,” Sorenson said.

Among Escobar’s supporters were local ultra runners, who prefer runs longer than the standard 26.2-mile marathon distance. While most folks can not do what they or Escobar can, they said pushing yourself does not just have to be about physical health.

“Anyone can push the limits,” Eric Weslowski said.
“You can push your own limits. It doesn’t take, you don’t have to be an ultra runner,” Sergio Florian said.

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“But anybody can do it within their own level of ability to push themselves to do something big and the body really responds and is really good for us, I think,” Florian said

Escobar’s team told KHON2 at 6:56 p.m. that he was decided on a 40th and final trip up the mountain. Accomplishing 35.63 miles in 19 hours, 27 minutes and 59 seconds ascending 34,908 feet.