Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Climb Every Mountain


I am both intrigued and concerned about young people taking on extreme sports challenges. In our last posting, we wrote about children who attempted to break the solo-unassisted around-the-world sail. When 16-year old Abby Sunderland’s small craft was adrift without a mast in the Indian Ocean, the public debate on whether we should allow our children to take on such dangerous exploits was turned up a few notches.
Copyright 2010, publisher of fine books on sports.

Jordan Romero

The ongoing saga of Jordan Romero is another page in the debate. On May 22, 2010, the 13-year Californian reached the summit of Mount Everest with his dad, his step-mom, and three Nepalese sherpas. Everest was just one stop on the boy’s long journey to climb the highest peak on each of the seven continents that he began as a ten year old. Pretty incredible stuff in my book.

According the Romero’s web site http://www.jordanromero.com, Everest is the seventh peak in his bid to climb the highest summits in each continent--he says there are eight peaks in all. An expedition to scale the 4,897-high Vinson Massif in Antarctica is planned for December.

Unlike the very young solo round-the-world sailors, Jordan was not alone in his climbing adventure, which to my way of thinking puts his exploits into a whole different category. Jordan was always surrounded by a team of adults leading the way and monitoring his physical condition at every stage of the climb. However, his exploits are not without controversy and I think the debate is important.

Climbing Controversy

Part of the controversy surrounding young climbers is that high altitude climbing may be more dangerous to the young. There are other criticisms as well. David Hillebrandt, medical advisor to the British Mountaineering Council, is not a fan of Romero’s exploits and believes that the boy could not be mature enough for such an ascent. He also suggests that some of these ascents are not true sportsman's adventures(my words). Hildebrandt points out that without years of training and experience, some climbers are essentially being winched up mountains using ropes put in the place by the sherpas.

Only His Sherpas Know for Sure

We don't know of course, how much help Jordan received making the climb. I guess you might say only his Sherpas know for sure. However, this being Jordan's seventh mountain, I suspect he has some pretty special skills for age 13. But no doubt we’ll learn much more about Jordan’s efforts in the coming months.

Only Those with Valid Drivers License May Climb

China (Tibet) and Nepal both have ascents to Mount Everest. The China Tibet Mountaineering Association (CTMA) regulates climbing activities in Tibet and recently said climbers applying for a permit to attempt the Everest summit or any other Himalayan ranges must be at least 18. Nepal restricts climbing to age 16 and above. There is a reported loophole in that CTMA said climbers outside the age limitations would be considered with proof that they were fit for such a climb, but the limit regardless would be 16 years old and above. At least for now that is.

About the Boy

Like sailing records, climbing records also involve a commercial aspect to them. After all, Sears is still selling Edmund Hillary tents. Romero has made the rounds on TV and has a kids book coming out this summer on his quest, The Boy Who Conquered Everest: The Jordan Romero Story with co-author Katherine Blanc, to be published by Balboa Press http://www.balboapress.com. But Jordan is also involved in Team Duke, John Wayne’s Cancer Foundation http://www.teamduke.org. For his schoolmates, he started a program called 7 Summits Youth Challenge to actively encourage kids to improve their fitness with diet and exercise. A young man with Disney-star looks, Jordan lives in Big Bear Lake, which boasts southern California’s largest recreational lake and a high altitude that gives the area plenty of snow in the winter for skiing and other winter sports. It’s a great place for an adventurous kid to grow up.

Jordan on Jordan

In the winter I would prefer to spend every waking moment on the slopes, practicing new tricks on my twin tips (skis) in the freestyle park. In the summer I mix it up a bit. I like to spend time, running, kayaking, mountain biking, downhilling, bmx, wakeboarding,cliff jumping into the lake, and rock climbing. I’m on the cross country running team at my school. Give me a new action sport and I’ll give it a try. Me and my friends, we live for sports and the outdoors.


There are certainly plenty of glory-hungry star wannabees around these days, but I am personally impressed with the approach taken by Jordan and his folks. He may be 13, but he is already connected to good causes and he likes to hang with his peeps as much as anything. There is no sin in pursuing your dreams even if they may lead to celebrity. At least that's what we believe at Sporting Chance Press. Kids need adventurous role models, especially ones who plan their exploits carefully with competitent adults. I don't know much about mountain climbing, but his "team" seems to be very good at planning and they are with him every step of the way.