Highly controversial or highly awesome? You can decide. But one thing is for sure, Jordan Romero, the 13-year-old who climbed Mount Everest this past spring, has a great tale to tell. In a new book, “The Boy Who Conquered Everest,” Jordan and author Katherine Blanc tell the story of how a young lad from California not only climbed Everest, but ticked off six of the “Seven Summits” on a globe-hopping spree — all before he was even halfway through junior high!
As the story goes, Jordan Romero was nine years old when he decided he wanted to climb the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents (the “Seven Summits”). Now, after turning 14 this summer, he’s scaled Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Mount Elbrus in Russia, Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, Mount McKinley in Alaska, and Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia. Gear Junkie covered Jordan’s feats on Aconcagua and McKinley, which he summited in 2007 and 2008.
He climbed Everest this past May of 2010 with his father, Paul Romero, stepmom Karen Lundgren, and Sherpa guides. The team climbed the north side of the mountain from China in a multi-month expedition. They summited in late May, and images of Jordan on top of the world’s highest peak appeared immediately in major media around the globe. He is 13 years old in the picture. He was born in. . . 1996! It was a feat that both amazed and stupefied the climbing community. Reactions ranged from “way to go kid!” to accusations of child abuse.
“The Boy Who Conquered Everest” looks beyond all that. It is a kids book with short text and lots of images, and it has a layout much like a scrapbook — highly visual, with images arranged haphazardly as in a photo album on each page. I read it to my three- and five-year-old kids one night, and they were enthralled with the images of a boy scaling heights and traveling the world.
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.
It all wraps up with Jordan standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, arm raised in victory, oxygen mask on his face. He called his mom from the top in jubilation on a satellite phone. The pictures in the book reveal that Jordan was indeed just a “boy” when he conquered the biggest mountain on the globe. To be sure, he was a fit and adventurous boy, geared up and prepared for the feat. But a boy, nonetheless. “The Boy Who Conquered Everest” ($9.95, Balboa Press) is available now at www.boywhoconqueredeverest.com.