A 9-year-old boy from Southern California has become the youngest person in recorded history to reach the summit of Argentina's Aconcagua mountain, which at 22,841 feet (6,962 meters) is the tallest peak in the Western and Southern hemispheres.
Tyler Armstrong of Yorba Linda reached the
summit on Christmas Eve with his father Kevin and a Tibetan sherpa,
Lhawang Dhondup, who has climbed Mt. Everest multiple times. They were
in fine spirits Friday as they left Aconcagua, whose sheer precipices and bitter cold have claimed more than 100 climbers' lives.
"You can really see the world's atmosphere up
there. All the clouds are under you, and it's really cold," Tyler said,
describing the summit to The Associated Press. "It doesn't look
anything like a kid's drawing of a mountain. It's probably as big as a
house at the summit, and then it's a sheer drop."
Only 30 percent of the 7,000 people who
obtain permits to climb Aconcagua each year make the summit, said
Nicolas Garcia, who handled their logistics from down below. No one
under 14 is usually allowed, so the family had to persuade an Argentine
judge that Tyler could safely accomplish the feat.
"Any kid can really do this, all they have to
do is try. And set their mind to the goal," said Tyler, who worked out
twice a day for a year and a half to prepare for the climb. He also held
fundraisers, not only to defray the cost but to raise money for CureDuchenne, which funds muscular dystrophy research.
"Most people think we as parents are pushing
Tyler to do this, when it's completely the opposite. I wouldn't climb it
if I didn't have to, but my wife makes me do it to keep watch on him,"
his father said.
Aconcagua's previous record-holder was Matthew Moniz of Boulder, Colorado, who was 10 when he reached the summit in 2008.
Tyler had already climbed the 19,341-foot
(5,895-meter) Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania at the age of 8, and with
Aconcagua conquered, is determined to reach all "seven summits," the
highest mountains on each of the seven continents.