Youngest Everest climber hopes to inspire kids

An eighth-grader from US is the youngest climber to reach atop Mt Everest.

Updated: May 24, 2010, 16:40 PM IST

Beijing: An eighth-grader from California who became the youngest climber to reach the top of Mt Everest said on Monday he hopes his achievement will encourage young people worldwide to dream big.

"I`m doing this to inspire other kids, hopefully across the world, to get outdoors and to set goals in life. I`m doing this to set an example for them," said 13-year-old Jordan Romero in an interview by satellite phone from the 21,320-foot (6,500-meter) Advanced Base Camp where his team had returned after reaching the top on Saturday.

"The record is one thing but standing on top of the world is just the best feeling you could ever imagine," he said.

On Saturday, Jordan succeeded in scaling the 29,035-foot (8,850-meter) peak, the world`s highest, accompanied by a team that included his father, his stepmother and three Sherpa guides.

Before him, the youngest climber to scale Everest had been Temba Tsheri of Nepal, who reached the peak at age 16.

The climb had its tough moments, the teen said, especially after he developed stomach cramps on the final ascent.

"It was the toughest part of the climb because I was thinking, `Man, I don`t know if I`ll make it `cause this is the worst pain I had ever felt in my stomach. But when we approached the summit, it all just faded away. I just felt happiness," he said.

When the group finally reached the top, Jordan recalled touching the colourful prayer flags draped at the peak before standing with his arms outstretched, yelling in exultation.

"I was so happy that all of us as a team, both my parents and all our Sherpas, had made it to the summit," he said. "I was happy about that ... that I had accomplished something so unbelievable. It was a feeling that will definitely be with me for the rest of my life."

His next step was to call his mother, Leigh Anne Drake, who lives in California, with the news.

"The first thing I said was, `Mom, it`s your son calling from the top of the world.` Right away, I heard on the other line just craziness going on," he said.

Jordan`s success means he remains just one climb away from his overall quest of reaching the highest peaks on all seven continents. The final peak is the 16,076-foot (4,900-meter) Vinson Massif in Antarctica, which he hopes to tackle at the end of the year.

Bureau Report