For those that are not aware of yet, Jordan Romero, along with his father Paul and Karen Lundgren departed last week to begin their journey to summit the Earth’s highest point, Mt. Everest. Of course, as many of you do know…it is by no means a ‘week long’ excursion. There journey began when they left the US en route to their final destination. This took them through Hong Kong and onto Kathmandu. From there, they had to load all of their gear onto vehicles and begin a 5-day drive to the Chinese border where according to Facebook posts from Jordan, they will have to unload all of their gear and reload onto other vehicles to continue the drive to Tibet. The most popular route for climbers is from the Nepalese side. However, the Nepalese government maintains an age restriction on climbing the mountain. The Chinese government does not.
Over the last year with the Everest expedition looming closer, there has been a lot of controversy about his age and his quest to climb Everest. There have been numerous other young people attempting feats that will set them apart from their peers. I think one has to look at each individual and consider each separately. Yes, there are risks with climbing Everest as there are risks in getting into one’s car daily. We have been posting updates and doing interviews with Jordan Romero since our inception in 2008. I have met him on numerous occasions and I have been witness to a young man as opposed to what I consider a typical teenager. I have twin nephews that are his age and they are by no means as mature as Jordan.
We wanted to give Jordan and Paul an opportunity to discuss with us their impending expedition and caught up with them while they were in Hong Kong prior to continuing on to Nepal. Take the time to read their answers below.
What have you been doing to prepare for this expedition? Long-term? Short term?
The lifestyle facilitates pretty solid preparation, and continues to inspire these adventures. At our place it’s eat/breathe/sleep adventures. Big Bear continues to be our base of operations, and coming off the winter of all winters, where this year we lived amongst enormous amounts of snow and winter/arctic blasts… well, it was good preparation for a Himalayan Expedition, to be living a pretty knarly winter is to stay in the good mindset of being in the elements and being on snow and ice.. We just had a solid good rotation of all the usual winter recreation, xC skiing, snowshoe, alpine skiing and heaps of backcountry trekking. Jordan has been on independent study which has allowed him to do marathon weeks of skiing, most often 10-14 hour days non stop, he and his buddies are nuts. So that is pretty good conditioning.
In the short term, we also took a pretty calculated approach to Everest expedition. We shifted from our usual ultra endurance style training, to a strong emphasis on core and power. New regimen in the gym, with plyometric and circuit training. We watched Jordan go from being a strong kid, to ‘adult strong’ in just weeks. He thoroughly enjoys it, additionally, we’ve got a new focus on the importance of the sports lab, and in depth analysis of lactic and mvo2 values. My only regret is not discovering the importance of this earlier, and now we have an amazing facility in Big Bear just meters from our base camp in Big Bear.
I know that you guys took a scouting trip there last year in preparation for this year’s summit bid…were there any surprises…good or bad and did this cause you rethink your planning upon returning to the states?
The recon was to the south side of Everest, the Nepal side. It was mind blowing to be amongst the path and very sites that all the legends of Himalayan climbing. But experiencing the Khumbu ice fall, and all that comes with that was less than pleasant. Our research tells us that the north side, the Tibet side is more our style. It’s complicated decision, and we can’t be totally sure until we have been there.
We did come home with a good amount of confidence, and just knew that Jordan was ready for it.
I would like to give you a chance to answer your critics in regards to Jordan’s Everest trip.
Paul: Well, we turned that off some time ago. It’s impossible to please everyone in the world, as Jordan’s story has gained some recognition and critics have surfaced, so too has the support. Last I checked there’s still only 24 hours in the day, and frankly, dealing with critics is the first thing to slash of my list of things to worry about. It’s important to learn from history, and I can’t pretend I haven’t heard very clearly some of the criticism. Make your own deduction, but I’ve not had many, if any, critics from the rather large circle of people I know, and that know us, and know us well.
We believe there is little importance placed on the number, the age, the fact that he’s 13. Jordan is now our partner in adventures, a teammate if you will. He’s smart, he’s strong, and he’s been all around the world climbing and preparing for Everest.
This is not a casual approach to Jordan’s quest. We have poured about every resource we have into preparation and the expedition. We have a very solid team and climbing for the right reason. Everest is going to be an incredible tough expedition and climb, we’re got things pretty well in order.
Jordan: Of course I hear the criticism. My dad and Karen have faced some very tough criticism, but I don’t understand how people that do not know me and my team have any right to criticize. I am seeing the world as not many kids my age have, it’s pretty fun. I guess I’m learning a lot, and if I can keep climbing and traveling, I guess I can’t complain.
I know what the critics are saying…what are your supporters saying?
It’s best to sum it up by saying that in the circle of those that know us, the support is pretty impressive. It’s been pretty important, more than we had expected. Essentially, the entire community of Big Bear is sending off Jordan (and Team) to Everest. That is pretty special.
We know that if Jordan is successful, he will become the youngest person to summit Everest. Thoughts?
Please know this is not necessarily an attempt at a record, It just happens to be that he’s 13 now. If he summits this year or in 5 years, it’s the goal that matters. A record has been fun to talk about, but it’s not the true drive here.
Aside from the obvious (attempt on the summit)…is there anything that you are really looking forward to?
Tibet-an opportunity to visit one of the most mysterious and misunderstood regions of the world is something we are very excited about. It’s the place that, going into, of which I know the least about.
Aside from reaching the summit, what is your ultimate goal in achieving this feat? i.e. inspire other kids, etc…?
My ultimate goal- it’s something that is really strange to see blossom. I guess it’s not something anyone would just be born knowing how to deal with. I’m learning that telling my story of setting a big goal, and stopping at nothing to get there, is inspirational. I see and hear about obesity in kids my age, and I just can’t stand it. I just want kids to learn about making the right choices, get off your butts and do something outdoors.
Tibet, we’ll spend 4 or 5 days getting to Tibet, and Chinese Base Camp….once there, we’ll stay as long as we need to make it it happen. Could be until early June. I’m learning about patience, and lots of it. I’ve never done a two month expedition before.
When you speak to other kids…what is the most popular question you get your peers?
Well, everyone wants to know about Everest , the kids don’t understand seven summits too much, it’s all about everest to them. But understanding the seven summits, they begin to learn more that mtn climbing is a metaphore for life. Building camps, putting one step in front of the other.
Do you have any apprehensions/concerns about the expedition?
I’m not blind to the dangers. I know what happens, I know I’ll be stepping over bodies, I know anything can happen. I also know that me and my team are extremely prepared and have taken this extremely serious.
What would we be surprised to find in your pack going to basecamp?
Surprise in my pack- I have some good luck kangaroo balls that I have in my pack. My buddy Nigel, who has struggled with Brain cancer for years now gave these to me to remind me of him while on the climb. He’s the bravest boy I know as he has fought and fought for his life. It puts things into perspective.
Is there anything that you have had to do differently in preparing to take a 13-year-old to make a summit bid?
Paul: I don’t know what to compare it to. I do know that focus is something we all need to be good about. Jordan’s commitment to personal and physical preparation is never in question. Making sure he’s got the drive to keep going when things are tough, real tough and ugly…this is crucial…and from what we have seen him do in the past on other expeditions, I’m pretty confident. So much of the prep happens between the ears, to make sure he’s ready for the huge huge efforts it will take to work our way into the 8000meter world.
What is your advice to other parents with children that have aspirations for ‘adventure’?
Paul: I can’t pretend to be a model dad, perhaps far from it. But I do know that emphasizing setting goals in life hasmade Jordan a strong young man. I guess that would be my big tip. Set goals, and drive. Drive hard. But, It is just as important to step forward as it is to step backward.
Respect, it all comes down to respect. Jordan exemplifies this, from early on. Of course he was known for his respect, care and passion for nature. Plants/animals/and mother earth. He recognized early the earth and animals are not treated well, and wants to do something about it.
What is your advice to other kids with adventurous goals?
Dream, dream BIG. Never ever let up. No matter what anybody thinks or what barriers get put before you. Never ever let up.
Interview featured in Adventure World Magazine