FanDuel - WFBC

May 19, 2010

13 Year-Old's Everest Quest : Thirteen year-old Jordan Romero, who has summited the highest peak on 5 of 7 continents, is currently in the process of making an attempt at the summit of Everest, an attempt that has set off some debate in the climbing community.

posted by holden to extreme at 02:24 PM - 21 comments

I personally feel this is totally ridiculous. To allow a 13 year old boy to make the decision that this climb is potentially worth his life is unreal. This is worse than letting your 13 year old sail around the world. At least there were people around to potentially rescue her. If you go down on Everest, that's where you stay. There is no rescue; you become another body along the path. Parents should be locked up for endangering the welfare of a child.

posted by Debo270 at 03:02 PM on May 19

I don't like these stories either when the child's extremely young for what they are attempting. Reminds me of the late Jessica Dubroff.

posted by rcade at 03:17 PM on May 19

My oldest kid is a very bright, very athletic 10-year-old boy. The idea that anyone his age could be ready in 3 years to make these kind of decisions seems crazy--CRAZY--to me. I don't care what Jordan Romero and his parents believe about his readiness for such an endeavor. The parents' actions amount to child endangerment.

posted by Uncle Toby at 04:18 PM on May 19

After reading "Into Thin Air" (the original article, not the book), I cannot countenance why any right-thinking adult would want to attempt to summit Everest in light of the risks, let alone subject his or her child to those risks. While I am all for the right of a person to make questionable/stupid decisions so long as it hurts no one other than himself/herself, I believe that children should not necessarily be given the same leeway and, unfortunately, if you allow the parent's/guardian's decision in these types of matters to act as a proxy for the child's informed consent, you get risk-taking adults projecting their preferences and views of risk onto their children.

posted by holden at 04:44 PM on May 19

He's going up at a moment when ground conditions are unusually forgiving.

But that's because a 90mph wind blew most of the snow cover off for the first time in years.

Like everyone said, no place for a kid. Even if he doesn't make the ascent, some other family is going to want to send their kid up. The horse is halfway out of the barn just on the publicity.

posted by beaverboard at 07:00 PM on May 19

In my mind there are only two types of people who would consider allowing a 13 yr old to climb Everest acceptable: idiotic gloryhogs who live vicariously through their children (I put the "idiotic" qualifier on the front of "gloryhog" because even though most parents who live vicariously through their children's athletic accomplishments are assholes, not all of them are this idiotic), and people who shouldn't (and hopefully haven't yet) breed.

posted by MW12 at 07:44 PM on May 19

"When I am training and know my friends are hanging out, I kind of miss it, but I will have plenty of time for that," said Jordan.

Quite the opposite: You'll have your whole life to climb Mt. Everest; childhood is gone before you know it.

That being said, sounds like he's done his preparation and the professionals feel he can do it. I wish him luck.

posted by DudeDykstra at 08:38 PM on May 19

So what's Balloon Boy up to now?

posted by cjets at 09:08 PM on May 19

This is nothing but a stupid, ego-driven stunt. I'm not even going to say whose ego. I'm completely disgusted by this.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:56 PM on May 19

"I really have dreamed about standing on top of the world since I was a little kid." You still are a little kid.

posted by skippy at 11:11 PM on May 19

Well this to me is a very grey area. Generally I agree with most of what has been said, but there is no real firm line designating the change from adolescence to young adult. This young guy has a pretty impressive climbing resume and a lot of experience. Probably more than most adults that attempt the feat. In addition some very young people, recently have sailed around the world solo, something I might add is just as dangerous. I believe strongly in personal & family freedom a concept which is cornerstone to my more libertarian views.

Recently a young kid was killed playing baseball in base running collision, and a teenage woman was raped and murdered while jogging in San Diego by a repeat sex offender. I am not saying the situations are similar but they do illustrate how difficult it is to protect our children. Every thing we don't do ourselves may seem more dangerous than it is because of the comfort level we personally have with an activity. So my son at 14 may surf waves that those with less surfing experience would consider deadly. Of course his comfort level is different than many older adults. Obviously there are some adults that would not be comfortable soloing a sail boat on a small lake while other teenagers are qualified to sail around the world. There are those of us that might be more comfortable on the open ocean that we would be walking at night in a park in Detroit or driving on a crowded freeway.

One thing I know for sure, while this kid is climbing Mt. Everest (and not alone I might add) there is a very good chance he won't be molested by a priest at the neighborhood church, or kidnapped and murdered in a park on the way home from a baseball game, or killed by a drunk driver while riding his bike in the suburbs. Again the level of danger perceived is all about skill level, and your level of comfort while doing any activity. Driving a car is very dangerous statistically, yet because we generally have a high comfort and experience level for the activity, we rarely feel threatened doing it.

Personally I would rather leave the decision up to the young man and his family then any government agency or strangers. There are two types of people in the world, those who want to do extraordinary things and those who don't. If he is not being forced or pressured and those in his family who love him are good with it then so am I. Wish him luck and hopefully the reward for him will be worth the risk to him. Living life is better than just surviving life. It's pretty obvious which category this kid falls into.

posted by Atheist at 03:39 PM on May 20

Recently a young kid was killed playing baseball in base running collision ... I am not saying the situations are similar but they do illustrate how difficult it is to protect our children. Every thing we don't do ourselves may seem more dangerous than it is because of the comfort level we personally have with an activity.

Just because freak accidents happen doesn't mean that it's OK to expose minors to astonishingly high levels of danger. Nine percent of the people who have attempted to reach Everest's summit have died -- 179 in all. Do you really need to climb Mount Everest personally to know how dangerous that is?

Personally I would rather leave the decision up to the young man and his family ...

There's a reason we don't let minors make major life decisions on their own and they are forced to abide by the decisions of their parent or guardian. They aren't equipped for it yet. The child protective services officials in Big Bear, Calif., should be investigating this kid's parents for this insanity.

posted by rcade at 03:58 PM on May 20

rcade- nice link. It appears the fatality rate has dropped drastically with the improvement in equipment has has now lowered itself to 4.4% although the article states it is impossible to know how many people have attempted the feat, which sort of nullifies the statistics. Even so, among those successful are a blind climber and a 70 year old. You did say yourself minors are forced to abide by the decisions of their parent or guardian. From what I understand a very experienced 13 year old climber who's father is an experienced climber wants to climb Everest with his father and his father is approving. My main point being some government lackey would not be better able to make this judgment call.

The can of worms you open when you legislate this stuff is frightening. I am not talking about stepping in when someone is abusing their children, I am talking about not letting parents decide what sport is acceptable for their own child. No doubt it would be arguable that some children are equipped to play football and others are not. It is much more dangerous for some kids than others based on a lot of factors like size, maturity, desire etc. Who do you want making that decision for your child? Mohammad Ali started boxing at a very early age in a youth program. Is allowing children to rattle each others brains child endangerment. Point being it depends on the kid, the supervision, etc. I am not sure it is about a clear line you can define.

posted by Atheist at 05:17 PM on May 20

So a 1-in-25 chance this kid will die on the mountain is acceptable? The fact that his father agrees with it should not be the final word on the matter. Some parents are stupid, foolhardy and desperate for fame. Look at Balloon Boy's dad. He had his son so wound up in knots lying to the media that the kid barfed on live television. All so dad could get a reality show.

Climbing Everest isn't just a sport. Comparing it to whether a child is equipped at his age to play football is absurd.

We don't need to legislate this. We already have laws that enable child protective officials to step in when parents refuse to be responsible for the welfare of their children.

posted by rcade at 05:29 PM on May 20

Kid's got more experience than many people who hit Everest. Plus, I wonder if he said that he was climbing some other more deadly mountain that none of you experts have heard of, if you'd even blink an eye.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:22 PM on May 20

The can of worms you open when you legislate this stuff is frightening.

Really? Then how come we're not all dead of fear already? Because, ya know what, in order to attempt to climb Mt. Everest, you need a permit. The fact that the Chinese and Nepali governments will basically issue a permit to anyone with the money doesn't change the fact that access to the mountain is regulated -- or "legislated", if you prefer.

There's a backcountry saying: "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment." While it's possible to read about it, to some degree, and digest a few basic rules of thumb, good judgment -- the kind that can be relied on when the situation gets fuzzy and it's not like in the textbooks -- is primarily developed from making mistakes and learning the hard way, or skating close enough to the edge to be able to see over. You learn from making mistakes, in situations where the consequences are pain and discomfort and inconvenience rather than death. Now you tell me where this 13-year-old's judgment comes from. Tell me what mistakes he's made and how that has resulted in the development of mature judgment in a physiologically immature brain. How's this for a quote:

"I know the consequences of mistakes, but I never feel in danger because my team is prepared and I try to remember it's all for fun..."

Oh, so his team is prepared? That makes this smell even more like a stunt to me. It sounds like his team has held his hand up five of the Seven Summits. Here's another tidbit from the article:

The team members have not hired Western guides and instead are relying on their adventure racing expedition experience and three altitude-savvy Sherpas to carry gear, scout the route and set up camp and lines, if necessary.

Yeah, uh-huh. Sounds like the kid isn't the only one whose judgment is highly suspect.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:01 PM on May 20

"Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."

But, as the researchers concluded in their paper, "On Everest, youth and vigor trump age and experience."

The team members have not hired Western guides and instead are relying on their adventure racing expedition experience and three altitude-savvy Sherpas to carry gear, scout the route and set up camp and lines, if necessary.

Yeah, uh-huh. Sounds like the kid isn't the only one whose judgment is highly suspect.

You'd rather have a western guide over a Sherpa? I'm not sure about that.

Also although attempts are up drastically the fatality rate is decreasing drastically.

(Years/Summits/Fatalities)

1922-1989; 285/106 (37.19%) 1990-1999; 882/59 (6.69%) 2000-2005; 1393/27 (1.94%)

On the other hand the massive difference in elevation between Everest and the other mountains he has climbed is huge and that seems to be a big problem.

posted by tselson at 10:37 PM on May 20

I mean 1.94% puts it between swimming and being a pedestrian.

I don't know, I have a 13 year old daughter, I still get nervous when she rides her bike to her friends.

I'm not condoning it but I don't think it reaches a level where a "child protective official," should have the rights to take away theirs.

posted by tselson at 10:59 PM on May 20

I mean 1.94% puts it between swimming and being a pedestrian.

Actually, it puts it at the top of the chart by a fair bit. Pedestrian (2.2 per 100,000) and swimming (1.8 per 100,000) are at .0022% and .0018%, respectively.

posted by holden at 11:30 PM on May 20

... I wonder if he said that he was climbing some other more deadly mountain that none of you experts have heard of, if you'd even blink an eye.

He's climbing Everest for the media attention, like all the other young extreme record breakers. If he climbed your hypothetical mountain and got the same amount of media attention, why would our opinion change? You don't need much expertise to know that climbing these peaks is often deadly.

posted by rcade at 06:57 AM on May 21

I was a climbing nutter when I was younger. If I'd had the connections, money and opportunity, you wouldn't have been able to keep me away from a chance on Everest when I was not much older than this guy.

posted by owlhouse at 07:59 AM on May 21

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