Wednesday, October 20, 2010

EXPEDITION INK: The Boy Who Conquered Everest

By Katherine Blanc, author, Hay House, 2010

The next time you are facing a monumental task and feel overwhelmed by it, think of Jordan Romero. He’s the thirteen-year-old boy who reached the summit of Mount Everest in May, ably accompanied by his mountaineer father, stepmother and three Sherpa guides.

As well as ice fields, crevasses and boulders, another obstacle that Jordan had to overcome was skepticism from the public. When news of his Everest success was made public, some in the international climbing community balked at the idea of a kid barely into his teens being put into the dangerous circumstances that come with climbing the world’s tallest peak, and others made assumptions about how he got there. But to author Katherine Blanc, whose recently published book for children and young adults, The Boy Who Conquered Everest, documents Romero’s story, the mountain climbing is secondary to the planning, the hard work and training it took to get there.

“People thought he was a rich kid who bought his way to the top of the world. Jordan does not come from money. He raised the money for his trips by selling t-shirts and headbands, by holding taco dinners with some of the money going to the trip, by giving presentations to outdoor companies that then sponsored him with equipment rather than funds. He did it the hard, old-fashioned way,” says Blanc, 47, the daughter-in-law of famed cartoon voice Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Barney Rubble)

(When we heard that, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ask what it was like at the dinner table. Katherine tells us, “Mel frequently spoke to us ‘in character.’ And since Mel created over 1,500 character voices, you never knew who you might be talking to next.”)

But back to Romero: Not only did the Everest ascent make him the youngest person ever to reach the summit, it also got him one step closer to fulfilling his childhood dream of summiting the highest peak on each of the seven continents. In a three-year period starting just after his tenth birthday, Romero climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa, both Mount Kosciuszko in Australia and the Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia (to satisfy any sticklers about his credentials), Russia’s Mount Elbrus, Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, then Alaska’s Mount McKinley, before tackling Everest.

While her book is aimed at young adults or kids, Blanc says Romero’s mindset appeals to all ages, including many adults. “’Find Your Own Everest’– that’s become his catch phrase,” says Blanc, a resident of Romero’s hometown, Big Bear Lake, Calif. “As the youngest person to summit Everest, Jordan holds a world record, but he really wants to use the book to urge kids, and adults for that matter, to get outside, put down the video game, get some exercise. … He’s not telling everyone to pursue mountain climbing, just to set your own goals and dream big.”

In January 2011, Romero hopes to climb Mount Vinson Massif, the highest point in Antarctica, the final stop in his Seven Summits quest. His only obstacle is his age – Antarctica requires a climber to be 16, and Jordan is 14. Blanc says Team Jordan is hoping to obtain a special permit, based on his previous climbing record. (For more information:


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