“It’s in the books. The kid and team summit with all fingers and toes. Descent still to come. Then we celebrate.” Those were the brief words this past weekend transmitted from Antarctica to a Facebook account and then out to the world foretelling the success of a 15-year-old kid, Jordan Romero, as he reached the 16,050-foot summit of Vinson Massif, the highest peak on the continent, at noon on December 24th. The Christmastime summit was twice as sweet for Jordan, who has climbed around the world for the past six years with his father, including a successful ascent of Mount Everest at age 13, and who now holds the title of the youngest person ever to reach the top of the fabled “Seven Summits.”
The highest mountains on each of the seven continents, the “Seven Summits,” include Everest, Vinson Massif, Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa), Carstensz Pyramid (Australia/Oceania), Mount Elbrus (Europe), Denali (North America), and Aconcagua (South America).
For the Antarctica climb on Christmas Eve, the BBC reported that in an audio message recorded on the summit Jordan’s father, Paul Romero, said there was a 15-knot wind and that the temperature felt like minus-25 F. “Legendary day. Team’s absolutely strong as it can be,” he added. “The mountain gods let us climb on top of Mount Vinson. The team climbed absolutely flawlessly, perfect teamwork.”
Jordan climbed Vinson with his father and step-mom, Karen Lundgren. “We have been along on this incredible ride for the last six years,” said Paul Romero. “We have always had some giant challenge right in front of us, one peak after the other. And now, we have completed this amazing quest as a family and a team. There is no way I could be more proud of my son than I am today.”
We have covered and kept up with Jordan over the years, who was born in 1996. Our coverage included reporting on his ascents of Aconcagua and Denali, which he respectively summited in 2007 and 2008. Jordan also coauthored a book, “The Boy Who Conquered Everest,” which we reviewed in 2010. The book reveals that for three years Jordan slept in a special altitude simulator bed in his home in Big Bear Lake, Calif. It conditioned his body to the reduced oxygen levels he faced at high altitudes. Mean time, he’d wake up, go to school, and hang out with friends like other normal kids.
Congrats to Jordan! Vinson Massif is a tough climb, and the Seven Summits feather is undeniably impressive for his age. The feat, no matter his age, is a big deal. Add the strength, patience, perseverance, and six years of commitment — essentially half his life so far, not including “baby” years — and you have one stout and admirable teenager and a growing young outdoorsman to continue to watch.
—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.