WHAT HAPPENED? (1)
On May 22, 2010, an American mountain climber named Jordan Romero reached the summit of Mount Everest... at the age of 13. He went with 3 Sherpas, his father, and his step-mother and broke the record for the youngest person to climb Everest, beating out 15-year-old Ming Kipa of Nepal who completed the feat exactly 7 years earlier on May 22, 2003.
Romero went on to more climbing feats, climbing all 7 summits at the age of 15. Before him, George Atkinson was the youngest to complete the task at 16.
His experiences lead him to write the book No Summit Out of Sight, a novel for children.
The Seven Summits are the highest peaks in each of the 7 continents. By the time Romero completed his historic climb of Mount Everest, he had already completed 5 of the 7. (1)
On his first summit, he was only 9 or 10 years old. He climbed Mount Killimanjaro in Tanzania, which is the highest peak in peak in Africa. He completed this 19,340ft climb in July of 2006. (1)
Next up was less than a year later in April 2007. He tackled Mount Kosciuszko in Australia. Compared to all of the other 5-digit feet mountains he climbed, this 7,310 foot mountain was probably not that much of a challenge for him. (1)
He completed his next 3 climbs in the same year. He climbed 18,510-foot Mount Elbrus in Russia, Europe's highest peak in July, and took on South America's highest peak, Mount Aconcagua in Argentina in December, at 22,841 feet. (1)
Next up was the United States' highest peak, which is Denali in Alaska. This would be his 3rd highest peak, behind Mount Aconcagua and the tallest, Mount Everest, at 20,320 feet. He completed this climb in June of 2008. (1)
His final climb before taking on Mount Everest was in Asia, where he climbed Indonesia's 16,024-foot Mount Carstensz Pyramid. He completed this in September of 2009. (1)
Up next was the big one: Mount Everest. He went with his father and his step-mother. His family isn't talked about much, but one has to assume his family is super into climbing, not only to let their adolescent child summit some of the tallest mountains in the world, but also to travel around every continent to do so. (1)
His group choose the northern route, and they carried a GPS tracker and satellite phone. Romero conducted interviews from base camps, and once he reached the top, he did a Skype interview. He also called his mom who had been following the climb through his GPS tracker. "Mom, I'm calling you from the top of the world," she recalls him saying. (2)
Though his feat was, objectively, absolutely incredible, it brought about some criticism. His intentions to climb the mountain were known, and there were many articles about the same topic: is 13 too young to scale Mount Everest? (1)
David Hillebrandt, a medical adviser to the British Mountaineering Council, questioned if he was mature enough for the climb, said his quest was against the "spirit of true mountaineering" and said that it was more about money, marketing, and could be potentially considered child abuse. He also tried to minimize the accomplishment by calling him a "token passenger" and saying that with all of the Sherpas and ropes and such, he wouldn't actually be doing anything. Which seems extremely incorrect. (1)
But despite the criticism, he accomplished his goal and became the youngest person ever to do it.
He finished his Seven Summits goal in December of 2011 at the age of 15 by climbing Antarctica's 16,050 Vinson Massif, becoming the youngest person to complete all 7 summits. (1)
Romero still holds the title for youngest person to scale Mount Everest, but he was almost beaten out by Indian mountaineer Poorna Malavath. She climbed to the top of Mount Everest at age 13 as well, but was one month older than Romero. She does hold the title for the youngest girl in the world to climb Mount Everest. (3)
Now, Jordan Romero is 23 and living in Salt Lake City. He had plans to climb the highest peak in all 50 states, but it is unclear what his progress is on that goal. He lives in Salt Lake City, UT. He recently received a degree in Environmental Studies. (4)
SOME MOUNT EVEREST MYSTERIES
As evidenced by my historical Grand Canyon article that just turned into me writing about weird deaths at the Canyon, I can't write about any cool things without also writing about some mysterious, creepy stuff that accompanies it. So, here are some weird, creepy or mysterious things that have happened on the mountain. (5)
While Everest attracts climbers, young and old, it also can attract some eccentric people. One of those being Englishman Maurice Wilson. His plan? Fly a plane, crash land that plane on the northern slopes of Everest, and then solo climb to the top. He trained in both hiking and climbing, and prepared by fasting and praying. Which I suppose could be good supplementary plans, but not really enough to get you to the top. Oh, and the weirder part of his plan? He wanted to climb in high heels. (5)
He eventually abandoned the whole plane portion (wasted flying lessons) and set off on high-heeled foot on May 22, 1934. In the article I read, it said, "he was eventually blocked by an ice wall and, perhaps, his lack of any climbing equipment or experience whatsoever" which is funny. It is said that when his body was found, he was wearing women's lingerie, and though it isn't corroborated, I choose to believe it. A Chinese team did find a high-heeled shoe near his body, and it was proven that he was a cross-dresser, so it seems believable enough to me. (5)
Another ~spooky~ fact about Everest is "the death zone", which is about 26,200 feet up and, as the name suggests, where a lot of people die. Sherpa Pemba Dorje who holds the record for fastest speed to reach the top (8 hours, 10 minutes... all in a business day's work, I guess) remembers being overcome by a supernatural feeling when coming across a group of deceased climbers, frozen in the snow. He believes the spirit of the climbers remains on the mountain. He said that one climber who died from a fall was still hanging from a rope. (5)
Many Sherpas believe that, in order to appease the spirits on the mountain, they must be given a proper burial, but it is obviously difficult to extract bodies from a place that 99.99999% of the world's population can't access. (There are so many dead bodies on the mountain that they are sometimes used as milestones while climbing. One of the most famous, "Green Boots", was an unidentified deceased climber who died at 27,900 feet up. His body has been there since 1996.) (5,6)
In 2017, Ueli Steck died while climb both summits of Everest in one go, which had never been done before. He is the "Michael Jordan, Lionel Messi, Babe Ruth, or Usain Bolt of the mountaineering world", and thus, his goal wasn't seen as that ambitious given his impressive climbing resume. He was fast, he was accomplished, and technically savvy. (5)
But Steck died in a super bizarre way: He fell on a route he had done before, the "tourist" route to the top of the mountain. Though the climb obviously would be extremely difficult for someone who knew nothing about climbing, it should have been a mere formality for someone of Steck's abilities. It is unknown exactly what happened, if he got sick or just clipped in the snow. But somehow, "mountaineering's most acclaimed star" fell 1,000 feet to his death in what should have been considered a training exercise. He was widely mourned in the climbing community. (5)
And one final weird one for you. On May 22 (listen... what? How is this happening? I understand late May must be a hot time for Everest but Romero summitted on May 22, the previous record-holder summitted on May 22, the weird high-heeled guy set off on May 22, and now this is happening on May 22? Guess this was a good topic to pick for my May 22 story...)
Anyway, on May 22, 2017, some rescuers going to retrieve another body found the corpses of 4 climbers at Camp Four. They were assumed to have died of altitude sickness. But here's the weird part: no one had reported anyone as unaccounted for. None of the climbing agencies were missing any climbers. Their identities were a mystery. (5)
When the Nepalese tourism ministry claimed that they were bodies from the previous year's expedition, things got even weirder. No one had been unaccounted for in 2016, either. To this day, the bodies remain unidentified and nobody knows who the 4 corpses were. (5)
So anyway, Mount Everest is terrifying and cool and fascinating and all sorts of things to all sorts of people, but for today's actual subject, Jordan Romero, it is the incredible goal he accomplished at 13 years of age, 10 years ago today.