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Jordan Romero with American flag on top of Carstensz Pyramid Jordan Romero stands on top of Carstensz Pyramid on September 1, 2009. Carstensz is the highest peak on the island of Papua New Guinea. (Photo: Team Romero)

On Top of the World at 13

Jordan Romero is the youngest person ever to climb to the top of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain on earth

By Laura Leigh Davidson | May 31 , 2010
Top: Mount Everest. (photo: istockphoto.com). Bottom: Map by Jim McMahon.<br />
Top: Mount Everest. (photo: istockphoto.com). Bottom: Map by Jim McMahon.

Thirteen-year-old Jordan Romero is officially the youngest person ever to stand on top of the world. On Saturday, the eighth-grader from Big Bear Lake, California, made it to the peak of Mount Everest—the highest spot on Earth.

To celebrate, Jordan surprised his mom, Leigh Anne Drake, with a phone call.

"Mom, I'm calling you from the top of the world," he said.

Jordan was not alone in his historic climb. "Team Jordan" included five other adventurers. Jordan's dad, Paul Romero, his dad's girlfriend, Karen Lundgren, and three experienced Sherpas, or Tibetan guides, climbed more than 29,000 feet to reach the summit of Everest. Yaks helped carry the more than 4,400 pounds of gear required to make the trip.

"The record is one thing, but standing on top of the world is just the best feeling you could ever imagine," Jordan said in an interview with reporters.

Before Jordan, Temba Tsheri of Nepal had been the youngest person to reach the Everest summit. He achieved the feat at age 16 in 2003.

Bigger Goal

Jordan has now climbed six of the "Seven Summits," the highest mountain in each of the seven continents. He got the idea to climb the Seven Summits after seeing a painting of the mountains at his school. He went home, researched, and asked his dad if they could take on the adventure.

Jordan's dad said yes. The two of them, along with Lundgren—who are both professional mountaineers—started climbing the Seven Summits in 2005. Jordan was 9 years old when they trekked to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
 
Dangerous Adventure

Even to an experienced climber like Jordan, Mount Everest poses unique challenges. The conditions on the highest peaks of Everest can be deadly to humans because of the extreme cold, treacherous terrain, and lack of oxygen.

Climbing Everest is considered one of the greatest feats of human endurance. More than 200 people have died trying to scale the world's highest peak.

Jordan's endurance was tested as he climbed the final feet to the top. He said he came down with some serious stomach cramps.

"It was the toughest part of the climb because I was thinking, 'Man, I don't know if I'll make it 'cause this is the worst pain I had ever felt in my stomach,'" he told reporters.

"But when we approached the summit, it all just faded away. I just felt happiness."

Too Young to Climb?

Jordan's climb has sparked intense debate about whether it is safe for someone so young to make such a dangerous journey. Doctors haven't studied the effects of extreme-altitude climbing on 13-year-olds. Many have questioned whether his parents are doing the right thing in supporting Jordan's quest to scale the world's tallest mountains.

Jordan's dad is confident in his son's ability and knowledge of climbing.

"The mountaineering world may have concerns about Jordan's age," Romero told news organization CNN. "But the boy is [a] strong and skilled mountaineer."

Training for the Mountain

Jordan got in top shape to climb Mount Everest. He exercised hard, concentrating on cardio and endurance training. He even slept in a special tent that got his lungs ready to endure the lower oxygen levels at the heights of the mountain.

Now that he has conquered Everest, Jordan aims to inspire other kids with his stories of adventure and healthy living.

"I really hope to be able to tour the country and try to climb all of the high points of the 50 states," he told National Public Radio.

"I want to do some motivational speaking and encourage kids to set goals in life and be healthy."

Jordan, his dad, and Lundgren will take on the seventh of the Seven Summits later this year. They plan to climb Vinson Massif in Antarctica in December.

GRAPH IT

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