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?