Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Teen Adventurers: How Young Is Too Young?
Yesterday we had an interesting article, courtesy of Alan Arnette, on the right age to be climbing Everest. In that story, Alan talks about the youngest and oldest to make that climb, and mentioned two people going for the opposite ends of that spectrum this Spring.
One of those climbers, Jordan Romero, is the subject of an article from Outside Magazine entitled "Into Teen Air", that not only looks at the exploits of the 13-year old mountaineer, but also asks some tough questions, such as at what age is it too young for these kids to be making these these high altitude climbs?
The story mainly focuses on Jordan and his plans to summit Everest this spring, following his successful climb of six of the other Seven Summits. But it also takes a look at Johnny Strange and Johnny Collinson. Strange is the current record holder for the Seven Summits, at the age of 17, but Collinson also made those climbs at the same age, and was bested by just a few months. Both of them faced similar criticisms as Jordan while they were planning their expeditions. Still, Strange says that he wanted to climb Everest at 13, and now admits that it wouldn't have been a good idea.
All in all, the article reads more like a profile of Jordan, but does try to tell both sides of the story. It's hard not to be impressed by the kid, and it seems his father is taking great strides to make sure everything remains safe. Jordan is a cool customer, with lots of experience at altitude now, and he seems to be humble and well grounded. Still, I can't help but feel that 13 is just too young to be on Everest, or any other 8000 meter peak. I also think it is a bit ridiculous to be chasing records for the "youngest" to accomplish something. Those kinds of records are dubious and dangerous in my opinion, and if it isn't about those records, whey can't he wait until he's older to fulfill his quest? It should be noted that I fell very similarly about other kids going for circumnavigation records and similar adventurous pursuits.
I do wish Jordan luck of course. I hope that the climb goes well and that he not only reaches the summit, but makes it back down in one piece. I just happen to fear the ten year old who will follow him.