13-Year-Old Attempts Mount Everest Record

Thirteen-year-old Jordan Romero is attempting to be the youngest person ever to climb the summit of Mount Everest. Robert Siegel talks to Jordan about his journey.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Many parents encourage their children to reach for the stars or to achieve the greatest heights. But the parents of Jordan Romero have breathed literal life into those clich�s. Jordan, who's just 13, is attempting to climb the 29,000-foot summit of Mount Everest. He's the youngest person ever to attempt the ascent. And this is part of a larger project to climb the seven highest summits on seven different continents. Everest will be his sixth.

Jordan has spent the last month adjusting to the altitude and he plans to strike out with his father, his father's girlfriend, and a team of experienced climbers and Sherpas as soon as the weather allows. And he joins us now from a base camp at 18,000 feet.

Welcome to the program.

Mr. JORDAN ROMERO (Mountain Climber): Hello. It's great to be here, Robert.

SIEGEL: You've climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, you've climbed Mount McKinley, along with a number of other extremely challenging peaks. How does climbing Everest differ so far?

Mr. ROMERO: Well, Everest hasn't been the most technical mountain I've ever climbed, but it has probably the hardest mountain physically I've ever climbed. And Mount McKinley was definitely technically harder. But Everest here, it's high and it's the altitude that makes it just really, really tough on you.

SIEGEL: Now, I read on your postings on the Web that you've been doing your homework. Seriously, how much schoolwork have you been able to do on this trip to Everest?

Mr. ROMERO: I've been given a handful to take. This whole expedition is part of it.

SIEGEL: Mm-hmm.

Mr. ROMERO: I mean, social studies has been really easy because I feel like I'm learning so much more here in Nepal about the people, the politics and the religion and everything about Tibet and stuff like that that I don't get to learn about in school. So, I'm (unintelligible) to come here.

SIEGEL: Well, after you climb Everest at the ripe old age of 13, what are your plans and ambitions after that?

Mr. ROMERO: Well, after Everest, I really hope to be able to tour the country and try to climb all of the high points of the 50 states. And along with that, I want to do some motivational speaking and encouraging kids to set goals in life and being healthy and living a healthy lifestyle.

SIEGEL: And where did this - it's more than a dream - where did this plan to climb great mountains, where did it come from? Where did you get this idea?

Mr. ROMERO: Well, I was just inspired by a mural. Just walking down my school hallway at the age of nine in the fourth grade, I just saw this mural and my dad picked me up from school. I said, Dad, I want to climb the Seven Summits. And he said, of course, Jordan. We can definitely make it happen. And we started training right away.

SIEGEL: And have you been at all concerned or have your parents been concerned about the danger that you might face?

Mr. ROMERO: They definitely have, and I have to. Yeah, being concerned about the danger is normal. It means that you have respect for the mountain, and it's a very important thing. We're - we take all the precautions. I mean, it's not the most safest thing to do, but we're just out there having fun but doing it respectively. And we know when to turn back and we're climbing for the right reason.

SIEGEL: That was Jordan Romero. He sets out this week for the summit of Mount Everest. At age 13, he would be the youngest person ever to do so.

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