You remember being 13. Your first ‘cool’ band t-shirt, your mum buying you industrial quantities of Clearasil on a weekly basis, your lunchtime kickabouts behind the sports hall; you remember it all. Those sleepovers that were all about being the best at Playstation, the tentative steps towards being adequate at bass guitar, your first embarrassing attempt at flirtatious interaction with the opposite sex; it’s all so vivid isn’t it? Now picture that adolescent version of yourself standing on the summit of Everest. Can’t do it, can you? The thought of your pubescent-self atop the world’s highest mountain is just too absurd.
Jordan Romero, now 21, was different. At the unbelievably young age of 13 years, 10 months and 10 days, he made it to Everest’s peak and, in doing so, dramatically rewrote the mountaineering record books. The feat of becoming the youngest person ever to climb the legendary mountain, the previous record holder had been a comparatively ancient 15, led to an explosion of media coverage; thrusting Jordan, and his climbing family, under the brightest of spotlights.
“My parents didn’t drag me up the mountain. If anything, it was the other way round.”
“Getting to the summit of Everest was such a surreal moment, man. I really couldn’t believe it. I was so mind-blown at the fact I was standing on top of it. It was just something that… I guess I had never been so present in the moment,” Jordan tells us via Skype.
Achieving something so impressive at such a young age would, you might think, have led to a unanimously positive reaction from observers. However, in perhaps the most extreme example of that famous old saying ‘you can’t please everyone’, there were critics who spoke out against Jordan and the adults in his life for taking a 13-year old up a mountain that, at the time of his ascent, had already claimed the lives of 217 climbers. Since 2010, this number has increased to 290.