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Too Young to Climb Mt. Everest?

At an age when most boys are playing video games and just hanging out with their buddies, Jordan Romero is experiencing the adventure of a lifetime.  The 13-year-old, along with his father, Paul, and professional adventure racing teammate, Karen Lundgren, is attempting to secure his place in the record books by being the youngest person to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.

If he succeeds, Romero will oust 17-year-old Johnny Collinson from that spot.  But, what if he doesn’t make it?  Nearly 200 older and more experienced people have died attempting to climb to the top of the great mountain.  At 13, is he physically and mentally mature enough to risk his life in this way?

Obviously, Team Romero believes he is.  But others in the climbing community aren’t so sure.  Erik Weihenmayer, who is the only blind person to ever summit Everest,  wonders if Romero might be getting in over his head.

“My gut reaction was that 13 seems young to have the emotional maturity to decide to be there himself.  When I went up the mountain, I had people like one of my heroes, Ed Viesturs, saying I was going to slow my team down and kill them and myself, so I won’t be a dream crusher.”

Still others are more concerned about the effects of extreme altitude on the young man’s health.  Dr. Mikhail Kazachkov of Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital of Brooklyn says there is no way to know what impact the climb will have on Jordan’s physical well-being.   But while he suspects that a boy of his height and weight (5 feet 10 inches and 160 pounds  ) can physically withstand the climb, he’s not so sure if he has the emotional resiliency to handle such a challenge.

This isn’t Jordan’s first trek up the side of an incredibly large mountain.  He and his father have already climbed five of the Seven Summits and two years ago reached the top of the 22,841 foot Aconcagua in South America.  But at 29,035 feet, Everest is bigger and badder than the rest.  With everything we know about adolescent’s risk-taking behavior and their lack of appreciation for consequences, should this boy be allowed to attempt such a dangerous feat?

Image: Sistak/Flickr

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