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Teen begins ascent of Mount Everest

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Boy determined to summit Everest
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 13-year-old Californian aims to become youngest to climb world's highest mountain
  • "It's both physically and technically hard," he says
  • But he is learning a lot about culture and people of China, Nepal

Mount Everest, Nepal (CNN) -- Even from more than 21,000 feet up the world's tallest mountain, 13-year-old Jordan Romero couldn't resist the opportunity to greet his mother in a live television broadcast Monday.

"Hi, Mom," Romero said with a wave of his hand during the interview broadcast on CNN from the advance base camp on Mount Everest in Nepal.

The interview followed the first day of real climbing in Romero's attempt to become the youngest person ever to reach the summit of Everest, 29,028 feet (8,847 meters) above sea level.

Accompanied by his father and his father's girlfriend, and backed by a team of sherpas and yaks that helped transport their 2,000 kilograms (4,400 pounds) of gear, Romero needed 13 days just to reach the point where real climbing began.

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Paul Romero, Jordan's father, said the first day of the actual ascent Monday required technical climbing in tough weather conditions, including ice and snow.

For Jordan, it's all part of the journey.

"It could take ... a couple of weeks or a couple of years," he said, sitting in a tent wearing a parka and fluorescent yellow cap, and with a blue sleeping bag over his legs. "This is the first of many attempts."

His initial impressions? The trip is both hard and great.

"It's Mount Everest. It's a tough mountain. The altitude is tough," Romero said. "It's both physically and technically hard. There's a lot of new things."

At the same time, "I've been able to see Mount Everest from wherever I go. I'm already happy with that."

In addition, Romero said, he was learning "a lot about culture, politics, religion, people, everything about Nepal and China."

"So it's been such a great trip, and I've learned so much from it," he said.

Paul Romero praised his son's climbing Monday, noting that they spent 10 hours on ice and snow.

"Knock on wood, everybody's healthy," the elder Romero said, adding: "Jordan today had a stellar day."

Before they started, Jordan said he wanted to climb Everest for himself and to inspire more young people to get outdoors.

"Obese children are the future of America, the way things are going," he said on April 9 in Kathmandu. "I am hoping to change that by doing what I do: climbing and motivational speaking. I want to motivate children and inspire them to get outdoors."

With a smile, he added: "I am doing this a little for myself, too, to do something big."

Romero has climbed five of the seven highest peaks on seven continents, known as the Seven Summits.

Having a very encouraging father and his girlfriend, who have gone around the world participating in climbing expeditions and competing in endurance racing competitions, certainly helps.

"This is not an isolated vacation," Paul Romero said before the climbing began. "This is a lifestyle. We travel everywhere and climb together."

The family started tackling the Seven Summits in summer 2005. Jordan was just 9 when they climbed the 19,341 feet to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Since there is a debate about whether the tallest mountain in Oceania is Kosciuszko in mainland Australia or Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia, Jordan and his family climbed both.

The only peak left for the adventurers to climb after Everest is the Vinson Massif in Antarctica; a trip is planned for December.

The idea to climb the Seven Summits came to Jordan when he saw a mural of the mountains in the hallway of his school when he was 9. Before sharing his dream with his father, he did all the necessary research and only two weeks later told him of his ambition.

"I was very shocked he even knew what the Seven Summits were," Paul Romero recalled. "But then, he is a complete nature fanatic."

Jordan's father and his girlfriend, Karen Lundgren, went to Kathmandu for the first time last year to see whether Jordan could make the Everest summit from the south face in Nepal. They decided instead to start their climb in the north, in China.

"The mountaineering world and Jordan may have their concerns about Jordan's age, but the boy is as strong and skilled a mountaineer as many of the people climbing," Paul Romero said. "There is a proficient support and safety system about him."

The highest peak Jordan has climbed is Aconcagua in Argentina, which stands at 22,841 feet. He spent weeks preparing for the ascent of Everest.

"I have been exercising hard, concentrating on cardio training and endurance training," Jordan said before the trip. "I have been sleeping in an altitude simulator tent for the past month to get my lungs ready."

Jordan has been an outdoor person all his life and takes kids to climb mountains in the Big Bear region of California, where he lives.

Despite his achievements, Jordan wants to be seen as a regular kid.

"I try to seem like an average kid who happens to be climbing," he said this month. "But I'm not really fitting in."

 
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