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At 13, he wants to be youngest Everest climber

A 13-year-old California boy plans to try to climb Mount Everest in a quest to reach the summits of the highest peaks on all seven continents.If Jordan Romero succeeds, he'll become the youngest person to conquer the world's highest mountain.Jordan will attempt the ascent to 29,035 feet with his father and his father's girlfriend, both experienced outdoors people who have helped train the teenager
/ Source: The Associated Press

A 13-year-old California boy plans to try to climb Mount Everest in a quest to reach the summits of the highest peaks on all seven continents.

If Jordan Romero succeeds, he'll become the youngest person to conquer the world's highest mountain.

Jordan will attempt the ascent to 29,035 feet with his father and his father's girlfriend, both experienced outdoors people who have helped train the teenager for top-level mountaineering.

When Jordan was only 9, a school mural of the seven summits inspired his ambitious goal.

"I told my dad about it and he didn't say no. He just explained the difficulties and what I'd have to do. We started training right away," said Jordan, who was scheduled to depart for Nepal Monday night.

At age 10, he became the youngest American to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak. He's steadily checked off four of the tallest peaks since then, including Alaska's Mount McKinley, which many climbers consider to be a more technical climb than Everest.

Knowing the risk

Despite his penchant for tall mountains and thin air, friends and family describe Jordan as unusually grounded for a 13-year-old. He said he understands the risks of climbing Everest, which kills climbers almost every year.

"Mountain climbing requires a lot of mental training and making smart decisions. It's a metaphor for life," he said, sounding wiser than his years.

The teenager's planned Everest ascent is making the mountaineering community think hard about how young is too young to climb such a dangerous mountain.

Jordan's father, Paul Romero, said he wants nothing more than to make his son's dreams come true.

"It's his quest and we're just along for the ride," said Romero, a helicopter paramedic who lives in the San Bernardino Mountains ski town of Big Bear Lake. "We may or may not reach the summit this time. It might be a dress rehearsal."

All in the family

Romero and girlfriend Karen Lundgren are adventure racers, competing in weeklong endurance races that combine biking, climbing, paddling and climbing through wilderness areas around the world.

Jordan's mother, Leigh Anne Drake, said she supports her son but she also sees her ex-husband's influence in the project.