Saturday, May 22, 2010

Thirteen Year Old Climbs Everest In Epic Feat Of Daring/Child Abuse

Thirteen year old Jordan Romero of Big Bear, California has just become the youngest person to climb Mt. Everest. While there's no doubting that reaching the summit is quite an achievement at any age, one must question the wisdom sanity of his parents in allowing him to attempt it. Though it's far less dangerous than it used to be, climbing Everest is still serious business - to date 216 people have died attempting it, according to Wikipedia, and every year that list grows. Furthermore, if you should suffer a misfortune on the higher slopes of the mountain, it's quite likely nobody will be able to help you, or even, for that matter, retrieve your body should you expire. It is, in short, no place anyone who can't make a fully informed, adult decision to voluntarily place his or her own life at great risk ought to be.

If we're going to prohibit minors from drinking, driving, having sexual contact with adults, and a host of other mundane activities on the grounds that they're not mature enough to engage in such behaviors responsibly - and no one with any sense would argue that we shouldn't - there's no way we should be letting them climb Everest. The government of Nepal, sensibly, recognizes this, and has imposed an age limit for climbers, but China for some reason has not, even though mountaineers consider the route to the top from Tibet a more difficult climb. That Romero made it to the top is a great human interest story. Assuming he makes it back down, we should all be thankful it turned out to be that, and not a tragic anecdote of terrible parenting.

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