California Boy, 13, Sets Out to Be Youngest to Conquer Mt. Everest
In May, as Romero's school year comes to a close, the 13-year-old plans to reach the peak of Mount Everest and become the youngest person to scale the tallest peaks on all seven continents. If successful, Romero will earn the record -- currently held by a 16-year-old from Nepal -- as the youngest person to reach Everest's summit.
ParentDish exchanged e-mails with the Big Bear, Calif., teen while he was in the Tibetan town of Nylam on his journey to Tingri and the Tibetan Plateau, during his five-day route to the Everest base camp.
So far, Romero writes, the trip has been "excellent ... So much to see along the way, the people are nice, the food is great and the Himalayas are amazing. I can't wait for the drive tomorrow to see more."
The boy is accompanied on his travels by his father, Paul Romero, and his step-mother, Karen Lundgren. Both experienced in mountaineering, they have been helping Romero train to ascend the 29,035 foot peak.
Romero credits his dad with inspiring him to reach his goals. And the reason climbing Mount Everest is among them is simple: "Because it is a part of the 7 summits and my goal is to climb all of the 7 summits," he writes.
And his young age? Well, that's just not a factor, he tells ParentDish.
"There is no reason to wait till I am older," Romero writes. "I have a great team right now and I am prepared for the climb."
At the age of 9, Romero set a goal to climb the tallest mountains in the world. When he was 10, Romero reached the top of Africa's tallest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, becoming the youngest to complete it. In 2007, he conquered Australia's Mount Kosciuszko, Europe's Mount Elbrus and South America's Mount Aconcagua. Two years ago, he took on North America's tallest mountain, Mount Denali/Mount McKinley, which some consider a more technical climb than Everest. And last fall, Romero reached the summit of Oceania's Carstensz Pyramid.
While his friends and family are supportive, Romero writes: "They think I am a little bit crazy, but they also think it's cool."
And while he admits "preparing is hard, there is soooo much gear to put together it has taken us months to prepare all of the gear," so far, the travel "has been easy" and he describes crossing the border from Nepal to China as "interesting."
"You must walk across the Friendship bridge," the teen writes. "All the trucks must unload on one side and there are porters working at the border who carry all the stuff from the trucks to the other side and cross the border. In Nepal they drive on the left side of the road. In China they drive on the right side of the road. They transfer all of the stuff to a new truck on the other side of the border. That is pretty crazy."
Still, Romero says, he has managed to discover some comforts on his trek.
"In the middle of Tibet and we found a really nice hotel," he writes. "Big fluffy blankets, TV in the room and hot showers (though you have to walk down the hall for the shower). But I can't believe we found this hotel in this little town where we are at, Nylam."
Whatever their ambitions may be, Romero encourages other teens to follow their dreams.
"They need to find a friend or family member who believes in them and can help them along the way," he writes. "Tell them to take a small step toward their dream every day. Don't listen to the people who don't believe in you. Find people who want to help you. ... I want kids and adults to see what I am doing and hopefully find their own goal and follow it. I want kids to move away from the video games and get outside, enjoy the outdoors and be healthy."
But they still have to study, too. In between his preparations and travels, Romero is expected to tackle on his school work. He writes that his stepmother makes sure he sets aside time almost every day to do his homework.
However, he says many of the lessons he is learning now derive from mountaineering.
"Climbing has taught me that I can do anything," Romero writes. "If I set my goals big, I can break it down into smaller pieces and get there one step at a time. Dream big and big things can happen."
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.