Thirteen-year-old Jordan Romero, accompanied by his father, has reached a camp 20,000 feet up Mount Everest, and is poised to make a bid to reach the summit as early as Sunday. If the California teen succeeds, he will become, by four years, the youngest person to climb the world's tallest peak (29,035 feet). But many older and more experienced climbers have died attempting the feat. Is it irresponsible to let a 13-year-old try to climb Everest?
Of course it is: Jordan Romero will look like a hero if he emerges successful and unscathed, says Drew Simmons in The Adventure Life. "But if he doesn’t make it, if he loses five fingers finger to frostbite like other 'youngest climbers' trying to summit Everest, or if he’s the unlucky 1-in-30 who dies" trying to reach the peak, the decision to let him try will be remembered as one of the biggest failures in parenting history.
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Jordan is well prepared: "Jordan is ready," says Karen Lundgren (his stepmom), as quoted by The New York Times. "He’s strong, smart, calm and has a great team surrounding him." And he has already climbed five of the Seven Summits over the last three years, including Kilimanjaro (19,340) in Africa, Elbrus (18,510) in Europe, and Kosciusko (7,310) in Australia. He has the "skills, strength, and mental abilities" to make the climb safely.
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There's too much uncertainty: Maybe Jordan Romero does have the "necessary skills to make history," says Steven James Snyder at Time.com. "But just because he can doesn’t necessarily mean he should." Doctors don't know much about the effect of extremely high altitude on young bodies. No one knows whether 13-year-olds are more susceptible than adults to acute mountain sickness, which can be fatal. For Jordan's sake, let's all pray they're not.
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