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Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Last Word on Firsts

Cam Burns, the Bard of Basalt, sent me this nugget from Australia: A 15-year-old boy, climbing with his dad and a guide, aims to be the youngest ever on top of Mt. Everest. The never-ending parade of "firsts" on Everest is astonishing. (At R&I, we talked of doing a special Gimps Edition to collect all the First Blind Ascent of This and First Amputee Ascent of That stories that we somehow never got around to publishing.) The youth thing is particularly vexing. One side of me says it simply must be inappropriate to encourage a 15-year-old to climb Everest. But I'm cautious because A) I don't have kids, so what do I know? and B) For every parent-pushed preteen comp climber or Ed Viesturs wannabe trying to grab attention, there's another kid like Tommy Caldwell who started climbing with his dad when he was 3 and seems to have survived the experience just fine. Who knows if young Mr. Harris from Australia is an example of the former or latter?

The little spoof above was my take on the whole subject in R&I's last "Schlock & Vice" edition (September 1995). I couldn't put it any better today.

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