Youngest On Everest: Worst Fears Realized?

Everest kalapatthar crop
Jordan Romero has been all the buzz lately, becoming quite the media sensation since he reached the summit of Everest back on the 22nd of May. For months we’ve been following Jordan and his quest to conquer the Seven Summits, and many times I’ve said that while I salute him for his adventurous spirit, I worry about the precedent that his climbs might set for other kids to follow. It seems that those fears may be well founded, as there may already be plans afoot to take the “Youngest” record even lower.

According to this story over at Alan Arnette’s 2010 Everest Blog, Sherpa Pemba Dorje is already searching for a young climber who can break Jordan’s record, furthermore, he thinks that all Everest records should be held by Nepali climbers. Alan quotes him as saying:

“Nepal is a small country and we do not get much good publicity. I want to take an 11- or 12-year-old to the summit because I think all the Everest records should be held by Nepalese people.”

Pemba is also willing to put his money where his mouth is, as he says that he may even be willing to take his own son, who is currently nine years old but will turn ten later this year, to the summit of Everest. As a mountain guide, Pemba has been up and down Everest on more than one occasion, and even set the current speed record for the climb, which stands at 8 hours, 10 minutes, back in 2004.

This is exactly what I was afraid would happen. Now that it has been shown that a 13-year old can climb the highest mountain on the planet, someone wants to take an even younger child to the summit. Granted, if any 10-year old could make it to the top, it is probably a Nepali child who has lived in the mountains their entire life. But still, these kids are still developing, still growing, and personally, I don’t think it’s a good idea to take them up the mountain at all. Worse yet, clearly this is all about an arbitrary record, and I would hate to think about a child being injured, or even killed, because their overly ambitious father wanted to claim a record.

Nepal, to it’s credit, requires that all climbers be 16 years old or older to make an attempt on Everest. It was for that reason that Jordan and his team crossed over to Tibet to make their claim. The Chinese don’t have any qualms about who climbs as long as they can pay. Hopefully the Nepali government will stick to their rule and prevent anyone under 16 from climbing, even if they are native to the country. That doesn’t mean that Pempa and his son won’t cross over to Tibet to give it a try, but at least someone would be making a stand against this trend of younger and younger kids taking on these daring adventures.

Where does it end?

Kraig Becker

13 thoughts on “Youngest On Everest: Worst Fears Realized?”

  1. It ends when somebody becomes the youngest person to die on Everest. Then the youngest survivor will get to deal with the guilt for the rest of their life. Jordan, or whoever beats him, can try to wash their hands but the fact will remain the mountain wasn't going anywhere and he could have waited a few years.

  2. Kraig, I think he intends on climbing from Nepal. He is quoted as saying the the tourism ministry had agreed to make an exception to their 16 year-old minimum age for a Nepalese child seeking to break the American’s record. This is not confirmed but is in the story so it will be interesting to see if someone called foul, it would cause them to change their mind.

  3. Alan: I noticed that he intended to climb from the South Side from your write up, but I wasn't sure if he had approval yet. It'll be interesting if he does have it or if they do give it to him.

    Ugh, this doesn't bode well for the future.

  4. That is just stupid – 13 was young enough and the sherpa taking his own son up is just suicide!

    Sadly babies couldn't physically be born anywhere above 5-6,000ms but i'm sure some idiot would try!

  5. The pious hand-wringing over what people from the indigenous culture of the region choose to do with their lives is fatuous if not worse.

    Our culture has sent literally one million young people, many teenagers, into wars where they are often brutally mangled, physically and emotionally. On the other hand, one man wants to assert cultural pride by climbing a mountain and people throw a fit.

    A little perspective would be helpful here.

  6. Millions probably, but none currently from our country.

    I was suggesting being sent to any of the recent wars is more dangerous, pointless, and harmful than one person climbing a mountain. Considering we currently are spending a trillion dollars to send 100,000 young people, I would hope there is no disagreement on that.

    I am not sure why there is a cut-off age for when dying is acceptable and when it is not.

    Jordon received world-wide media attention, including from this blog. That does not escape the native athletes, who are very humble, yet know themselves to be far more capable. To prove it is very understandable.

    Chad Kellog had as much chance of setting the speed record as I have of winning the next olympic marathon, yet he got tons of coverage, because he was a white guy with a blog. Alan A reports, "The ropes have been fixed to the top, so now the summit attempts can begin." Hug? "begin?" The Sherpa's who are climbing this thing all the time aren't even mentioned.

    So when a native man wants to let everyone know who really knows how to climb high, be it not for us to start up the holier-than-thou chorus. Especially when our track record of sending young people to die is infinitely worse. Infinitely.

  7. We can save the political discussion for another day and time, but I do have to correct you on Alan's coverage of Everest. He has the utmost respect for the Sherpas and recognized that the first summits of the season came from the team fixing the ropes, and NOT when the commercial teams start up the mountain.

  8. Buzz, I think you've missed the point here slightly.

    This has nothing to do with what the "indigenous culture of the region choose to do with their lives" – it would have been the same article if we were talking about a 10-year-old New Zealander wanting to climb.

    And as for there being a cut-off for when 'dying is acceptable' I think you'll find the cut off being discussed is for when people are mature enough to make their own decisions and understand what risks are involved.

    I do however, agree with you that it is understandable for Nepali's to want to prove themselves and regain the record. I just don't think that this issue should ever have been allowed to get to this point.

  9. The pious hand-wringing over what people from the indigenous culture of the region choose to do with their lives is fatuous if not worse.

    If anyone's wringing their hands, it's you.

    You sound like a clinically depressed Marxist anthropologist with an agenda.

    It wouldn't surprise me if the next step in your "connect the dots" logic somehow manages to insert George W. Bush and the military industrial complex into the equation.

    Chad Kellog had as much chance of setting the speed record as I have of winning the next olympic marathon, yet he got tons of coverage, because he was a white guy with a blog.

    Tons of coverage? 99.9% of the U.S. population would say – "Chad who?"

    No one's stopping the Sherpas from creating their own blogs, public relations firms, advertising agencies, mountain guiding companies, gear companies, magazines, documentary films, cable television channels, publishing companies, etc. etc.

    A little perspective would be helpful here.


  10. I'd have to check to be sure, but I'm fairly positive I wrote a lot more about Apa Sherpa than I did Chad Kellogg

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