by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
May 22, 2010
BUD CHILES, SON OF "WALKIN' LAWTON," TO SEEK DAD'S FORMER JOB AS FLORIDA GOVERNOR
KATHMANDU, Nepal, May 22, 2010 -- A 13-year-old American boy, Jordan Romero, became the youngest person to scale the Mt. Everest, at 29,028 ft. the highest peak in the world.
From the summit, he called his mother at home in California via satellite telephone and said he was "unbelievably happy" after scaling the mountain that has made many heroes - and claimed many victims.
"I just wanted to do something big," Romero told his mother, Anne Drake, before leaving on his mission to climb the fabled, and often deadly, peak.
Romero, of Big Bear Lake, Calif., set the record on Saturday morning after climbing the mountain known as Sagarmatha, or "Goddess of the Sky," by Nepalese. The previous record was set by 16-year-old Temba Tsheri, a Sherpa from Nepal.
Sherpas are renowned for climbing. This time, Appa, a renowned Sherpa climber, set another record by climbing Everest for the 20th time. The Romero team included his dad, stepmother Karen Lundgren and three Sherpas.
"Every step of our journey requires teamwork. We invite you to join our team," Romero wrote in his blog before he climbed the mountain. "I'm starting to feel like this is going to happen! ... Our team has completed 6 of the 7 summits. Everest is just steps away. I can feel it getting closer."
The team's achievement is part of a climbing distinction known as the Seven Summits. Like Everest, the six mountains they have climbed since 1006 are the tallest on their respective continents. They include Mount Kilimanjaro, in Africa, which Romero summited on July 22, 2006; Kosciuszko, in Australia, in April 2007; Elbrus, in European Russia, on July 11, 2007; Aconcagua, in South America, on December 30, 2007; Denali, North America, on June 18, 2008; and the Carstensz Pyramid in Oceania, on September 1, 2009. All but Kosciuszko (7,310 feet) are above 16,000 feet. The team reached the summit of Mt. Everest on May 22, 2010.
Nepal does not allow children below the age of 16 to climb Mount Everest because of the danger, so the teenage boy's team climbed the peak from the Tibet side.
Romero wrote in his team's blog, that "We are ready to stand at the base of the mountain - mind, body and soul taking in the sight, feeling the wind in our faces and breathing in the experience."
Everest is on the border between Nepal and Tibet, which is ruled by its spiritual leader, ther Dalai Lama, but is now under Chinese military occupation.
Nearly 3000 people have scaled the Mt. Everest since Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenjing Norgay Sherpa of Nepal reached the peak for the first time on May 29, 1953. Nearly 200 climbers have died while attempting to climb the peak.
"We've trained our minds for the difficulties and emotions that the mountain will give to us," Romero wrote. "We've trained our bodies for the physical challenges that the mountain will share. We've opened our souls to the mountain, the history, the culture and the rituals that surround the climb. We are a team and together we will find our synergy and step together toward the summit."
Shedding light on his climbing project, Romero said, "I'm the one who started this project. It's my dream we are following to the highest points on every continent. I know it's a big goal, and lucky for me my family is supporting me every step of the way. In fact my family is my team.
His dad, Paul Romero, "is an experienced adventure racer and mountaineer" and a flight medic an expert in emergency field medicine. He is professionally trained in high altitude medicine and rescue. His stepmother, Karen Lundgren, is also "an experienced adventure racer and mountaineer," Romero writes. She is a coach and personal trainer and carries the video camera to every summit to document every step the team takes. She is the team trouble-shooter and technology manager."
Experienced Sherpa climbers Ang, Dawa and Karma were on his team. Romero says he now wants to climb Vinson Massif, in Antarctica, to complete his quest to climb the peaks of all seven continents and Oceania.
There were many records set on Everest this year, in addition to Romero's as the youngest climber and the 20th ascent of Sherpa climber Appa.
The Associated Press reported that the boy called his mom in California after he scaled the peak.
The emotional conversation led to "lots of tears and 'I love you! I love you!'" his mother told the AP. "I just told him to get his butt back home."
While most kids are playing video games or downloading apps for their latest cell phone, Romero climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa at the age of 9.
But what was the boy's inspiration for climbing all of the largest mountains in the world?
It wasn't a book, a movie or a lecture, but a mural painted in a hallway at his school of the seven continents' highest peaks, the AP reports.
There are concerns about all the record-setting on Mount Everest after so many people have lost their lives in the hope of reaching the summit or setting a climbing mark. Nepal's Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba had refused to meet a 16-year-old Nepali boy who wanted to climb the highest peak, saying he was too young. But later, the boy climbed the peak.
In view of nearly 200 deaths, though, perhaps it is time to think of setting criteria for attempts to summit Everest.
American Reporter Nepal Correspondent Chiranjibi Paudyal has contributed to AR since 1999.