Jordan Romero, 13, summits Everest: How young is too young?

Jordan Romero became the youngest to ever scale Everest, the world's tallest mountain Saturday. Teens around the world are setting new adventure records - and prompting questions about risk and maturity.

By , Staff writer

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    Jordan Romero, 13, poses at the Carstensz Pyramid summit on Sept. 1, 2009. Romero, a 13-year-old American boy has become the youngest climber to reach the top of Mount Everest. A spokesman for Romero says the boy's team called by satellite phone from the summit of the world's highest peak on Saturday.
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Thirteen-year-old Jordan Romero is now the youngest climber to reach the top of the world, Mount Everest.

On Saturday, Jordan reached the summit with his dad, a paramedic, his dad's girlfriend, and three Nepalese sherpas. The young Californian has now climbed the tallest mountains on six of the world's seven continents. He summited Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania at age 9.

When he got to the top of Everest, Romero called his mom.

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"He says, 'Mom, I'm calling you from the top of the world,'" a giddy Leigh Anne Drake told The Associated Press from California, where she had been watching her son's progress minute by minute on his blog, which showed his ascent on map that displayed a GPS tracker

Jordan's feat is sure to fuel a debate about teenagers pushing the limits of achievement.

The Nepalese government would not give the family permission to climb Everest from Nepal, citing Jordan's age. To make the ascent, Jordan's team went from the Chinese side, a more difficult approach, but where there is no age restriction.

The issue of age arose on May 16, too, when Australian Jessica Watson, at 16, became the youngest person to sail around the world solo, non-stop and unassisted. She spent seven months at sea alone.

Jessica was the latest of several teens making solo circumnavigations of the globe. It's reached the point where the World Speed Sailing Record Council has abolished its “youngest” category, in an effort to discourage such attempts.

Abby Sunderland, a 16-year-old Californian, is currently five months into her own solo sail around the world. She landed in Cape Town, South Africa on May 21. Her teenage brother, Zac, completed an around the world solo sail, last year.

"I wouldn't let her go at 13, or at 14 or at 15," Laurence Sunderland told the Los Angeles Times last year. "There's a strength factor and they need to be mentally grounded in what this entails. It's not a frivolous thing. The ocean is terrifying and you have to be prepared for all the adversities that it throws at you."

A Dutch judge stopped a 13-year-old girl from trying to sail around the world last year. The Dutch Child Protection Agency had asked that Laura be placed under state custody, calling her plan to spend about two years circumnavigating the world aboard a 26-foot boat "irresponsible."

Arguably, the risks associated with sailing alone in the open ocean are not the same as climbing with a team up Everest.

Nonetheless, the risks of climbing Everest were underscored by the challenges faced by 22-year-old Bonita Norris. This past week, she became the youngest Briton to reach the summit. Following the feat, however, she stumbled on the way down in an area known as a "dead zone" where climbers shouldn't stay more than a few hours. She lost the use of both legs and her feet were frozen. She was rescued by a team and carried part way down.

"I do everything in my power to make sure people come back safe, but there is no such thing as a risk-free climb," Kenton Cool, the 36-year-old professional mountaineer whose climbing company helped rescue Norris and to achieve her dream, told the Guardian.

Jordan Romero's blog says that he's "flat on his belly" at a camp at 25,000 feet, recovering from his ascent. "The effort he put out in this last ... 48 hours is, you're not going to believe the story when you see it and read about it," wrote one of the members of his team.

In December, Jordan plans to finish his quest to climb the highest peak on every continent. The last summit is in Antarctica.

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[Editor's note: In the original headline and summary Jordan Romero's first name was misspelled.]

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