Yesterday we heard how China was instituting age requirements for mountaineers hoping to climb Everest from the North Side of the mountain. These new restrictions are a direct response to 13-year old Jordan Romero successfully reaching the summit last month, setting off a heated debate in the climbing community about just how young is too young to climb the tallest mountain on the planet.
That debate is sure to get heated all over again, as Himalayan mountain guide Pemba Dorje Sherpa has announced that he is looking for a suitable Nepali child to take to the summit in an effort to break Jordan’s record. He has even gone so far as to say that he may even take his own son to the top of the world. The boy is currently nine years old, but will turn ten before the 2011 spring climbing season, when the expedition is expected to take place.
Dorje says that he feels all climbing records pertaining to Everest should be held by people indigenous to the Himalaya, and the Nepali government seems to agree. The Tourism Ministry in Nepal, which is responsible for issuing climbing passes, has set a requirement that states all climbers must be 16 years of age or older to climb Everest from the South Side, but they have already given the Sherpa permission to proceed with his plans none the less. Dorje is an Everest record holder himself. Back in 2004 he set the speed record for climbing the mountain in just 8 hours and 10 minutes.
This news fuels the fears that many in the climbing community had when they heard that a 13-year old was attempting Everest. The concern has been that younger and younger climbers would continue to climb these very dangerous mountains in an effort to push the “youngest” records even lower. So again, the question is how young is too young?
[Photo credit: Pavel Novak via Wikipedia Commons]