Should Jordan Romero Climb Everest?


Backpacker Magazine has an interesting story and editorial asking the question Should 13-year-old Jordan Romero Climb Everest? This seems a fitting question, considering the young man is planning on making an attempt on the world’s highest mountain next spring, which would cap his quest to become the youngest person to climb all the Seven Summits, assuming he knocks off Vinson on schedule later this year.

I’ve been following Jordan’s climbs fairly closely these past couple of years, updating his progress every time he managed to summit another one of the seven, which consists of the tallest mountains on each of the continents. This story from Backpacker is great for introducing Jordan to anyone who hasn’t been following him thus far however, and it talks about how he became captivated with the idea after seeing a mural of the Seven Summits at school. The article also emphasizes the parental support he has gotten from his dad, as well as other adults in his life too.

Backpacker also goes into the criticism that Jordan and his father, Paul, have had to endure. There are plenty of people who think it’s just plain wrong for a child to be climbing these mountains, and that the teenager is at risk every time he goes up. They also accuse Paul of being the kind of dad that pushes his son into doing things that he doesn’t necessarily want to do. Reading the story you can tell that the criticism has stung on more than one occasion.

The family has plenty of supporters as well however, and chief amongst them are mountaineers who have climbed with Jordan or spent time with him in camps on the five mountains he’s already completed. Others say that if nothing else, the teenager has goals and aspirations, and he’s not sitting on the couch playing video games like so many other kids.

All in all, this is a good story about a good kid, who happens to have very big dreams. Everything I’ve read or seen on Jordan seems to indicate that he is a level headed climber, wise beyond his years, with a great support system around him. You have to admire his determination and toughness, that much is certain.

And what do I think about a 13-year old climbing Everest? Personally, I don’t think its a very good idea. The mountain is challenging enough at any age, and sending someone so young up there just seems like it’s asking for trouble. The mountain is fraught with dangers, and a death on Everest is always tragic. It just seems like it would be even more so for a climber of this age.

That said, I feel like if anyone can do it at 13, it is probably Jordan. I also know that his family won’t put him into a position where he’ll be going up higher than he should. But, as I said when 13-year old Laura Dekker was planning on circumnavigating the globe solo, I’m against these kids doing these things to earn a “record” for being the youngest to accomplish something.

And if it isn’t about a record ,then why not wait a few years? The mountain will still be there when Jordan is 16 for instance, and that three years can make a big difference in his physical maturity.

Either way, I wish him the best of luck. To find out more about Jordan, check out his website at JordanRomero.com

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10 thoughts on “Should Jordan Romero Climb Everest?”

  1. We have discussed this previously with Laura. I just hope both of them go, make it and then no one else will try to do it that young. I guess no one will really be serious to go younger than that. If afterwards no one else tries to be the youngest, then it'll be great and we won't be worried for kids 🙂

  2. True! Anything younger would be completely insane. Maybe we should just cheer them on, hope they get back safe, and then pray that no one tries to go younger yet.

    After all, someone will eventually try these feats at the age of 13.

  3. I don't agree with it at all.

    They don't call it the death zone because it's a video game. Climbing Everest is a serious matter. It is not a controlled environment at all.

    It's no place for a 13 year old.

    Most statistics you find say there is roughly 1 death for every 10 successful summits on Everest. For those that do make it to the summit they have a 1 in 20 chance of not making it down.

    Is his kids life worth that risk? I know mine isn't.

  4. Whenever I read about the latest "Everest Climbing Wunderkind", I think about this quote from an interview with Dan Buettner that appeared in National Geographic Adventure:

    http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/print/
    2009/06/live-longer-dan-buettner-text

    "I’m of the impression that most things sold as expeditions are stunts—bungee cords from hot-air balloons or stunt-y trips up Everest. These things don’t really add to the public discourse. They don’t offer up ideas. In my opinion, expeditions need to add to the body of knowledge or they need to educate."

    It's interesting on one level that he has the drive and initiative to attempt the climb at such a young age. I'm 41, and I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up!

    But on the other hand, let's get real. All these youngsters in their early 20's and now teenagers, are nothing but "trust fund puppies". They're not attempting Everest because they have impressive climbing resumes, they're climbing because they have wealthy parents who are willing to back them in their endeavors.

    If Jordan Romero makes the summit, and returns back safely with all 20 digits and 3 nipples intact, does that meet the "Buettner Test" above? Sorry, no dice!

    I wish him all the best, but it's not something that adds much to humanity. He'll be able to impress the chicks in his high school and later on in college, that's about it!

  5. Well said Wade. That's why I'm personally against some of these records, and especially the ones that involve accomplishing some of these dangerous activities at the "youngest" age. It is fine to have big goals, but do they mean anything more at one age vs. another? What do you do for an encore with the rest of your life?

  6. Well unless Nepal has changed the rules, they put a minimum age limit (17 IIRC) on Everest permits about a decade ago to prevent this sort of stupidity. Doubt the Chinese care, however,as long as their willing to pay and not carry a Tibetan flag.

    Realistically, he'll probably kill more brain cells when he gets to college. But starting off adult life with a permanent mental deficit isn't wise. Great boost for dad's ego though.

  7. Talking about brain damage. We don't know what can happen really to bring a kid above 8000m.

    Now, I'm more worried about people drinking, smoking (weed or cigarete), people eating wrong stuff like junk food where there's absolutely no vitamins/nutrients for the body. A kid eating bad all his life will certainly grow a brain/body in a worse shape than the one of Jordan after.

    Dying or not coming back in one piece is something I'm sure he's aware of. Jordan has probably more maturity in certain fields than most of us.

    About his endeavour, yes it's a stunt, a challenge. To me he's an adventurer (my definition is doing hard stuff, or extreme with only a physical/mental exploit). The explorer has in my opinion the feature of doing something new in a never or not often crossed land, seen place, or bringing a scientific purpose to the adventure. An explorer doesn't necessarily do something hard or very risky.

    About the permit, I think if he planned to climb Everest in 2010, it has already been discussed with Nepal.

  8. >these youngsters in their early 20's and now teenagers, are nothing but "trust fund puppies". They're not attempting Everest because they have impressive climbing resumes, they're climbing because they have wealthy parents who are willing to back them in their endeavors.

    Jordan's climbing resume sounds impressive to me. And he, unlike some others, is apparently not a "trust fund puppy" in that he is busily raising money and soliciting donations. You should knock your head together with someone on another blog who had exactly the opposite reservation. This person opined that it would be all right for a kid to do if his parents paid for it, but not all right if he needed outside contributions. Of all the issues to worry about, isn't this the most completely irrelevant?

    Given his experience, if he is undertaking this out of his own drive and commitment, rather than anyone pushing him in the least, he should be allowed to go. However, I wish wish wish that he would go up an easier way and have an experienced guide with him this time. This would add a very sensible layer of safety without spoiling the experience or the record he would set. The world needs his inspiration. And he will have an encore.

  9. Speculate all you want. Bash his parents every chance you get. Voice your uneducated opinions. Go ahead, be armchair quarterbacks.

    I bet that none of you actually know Jordan Romero. It is evident in your discussions of his quest. If you had met him, even for just a brief moment, you would be brought to your knees by his humble persona and his approach to life at the young age of 13.

    If you had a chance to talk with his teachers, his parents, or his peers, you would understand this is not a publicity stunt, but a goal he has set and wants to accomplish – for himself. He is wise beyond his years, and his climbing skills are as solid as any adult.

    I ask you this: What would this world be if not for the risk takers, the leaders who stand up and try the impossible? What would become of us as a people – if we never pushed the limits of our vision, of our world, of ourselves? It is a beautiful thing when someone dares to dream the impossible dream. It is inspiring to watch the unlikely hero struggle and achieve greatness.

    At just 13 years of age, Jordan has traveled the world, immersed himself in other cultures, volunteered at local schools, raised awareness for cancer research, and learned to give back to the community. He is truly a wonderful young man.

    He has arrived before his time; and with everything great, comes great controversy. Jordan knows this, he accepts it, and he owns it. This is HIS quest, HIS goal, HIS dream. If at any time he feels compelled to turn back, to stop, to save the climb for another day – he knows he can. There is no pressure from those closest to him, save the pressure of returning safely.

    But if Jordan is anything, he is committed. Paul and Karen stand behind him 100%, refusing to tell him the one word most commonly heard from the mouths of parents… "No."

    And so, he climbs on.

    One step, then another.

    While everyone is busy debating whether or not Jordan should climb this mountain- he is hard at work, actually doing it. And he is determined to make it to the summit, whether it takes him 2 months or 2 years. He is pushing himself, leading the way, inspiring a generation, and paving the way for others to dream BIG! He is out there – doing it. He is gaining confidence, growing, evolving. He is becoming.

    He is living.

    The rest of us should be so lucky.

  10. Thank you Anonymous!
    Very well said. If any of these critical people actually knew Jordan, they would quickly change their opinion of him and what he is doing and why. He is uniquely qualified among his peers to take on this challenge. If they knew the young man Jordan, and ignored his age, they would be supportive beyond measure of a boy who just happens to set extraordinary goals. Jordan has been an exceptional human from day one. He is a person who you could only dream of in a friend, child, sibling, family member, student, you name it! It is only because of Everest that you now know who he is! Lucky for all of humanity that there is a kid so driven to reach goals, so kind, compassionate, loving and humble. Humanity is lucky to have such a young man in our midst. I fear not for him but for the other kids his age who don't set goals for themselves at all! Climbing doesn't make Jordan great, he already was great before he ever set out on this goal. He can't fail at anything, because he tries, he attempts, he learns when he falls, brushes himself off and gets going again. The media attention from this is more embarrassing to him than you can imagine. If he had wealthy parents, you wouldn't hear about him at all, his dream is to climb, not become a celebrity. If you knew kids this age you would know they like to blend in, not stand out. It is because his parents DON'T have the cash to fund his dream they have to fundraise for this endeavor! So go ahead, say what you feel, you have a right to your opinion of course. But I know if you had the priviledge of knowing Jordan, you may change your not so positive opinion.

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