Jordan Romero, a 15-year-old mountaineer and the youngest person to climb Mount Everest, hiked to the summit of Mount Katahdin on Tuesday despite the stormy weather. The windy, wet journey to Maine’s tallest peak kicked off his 50-state hiking tour, “Find Your Everest.”
“The Find Your Everest Tour is about you. It’s about getting outdoors, being healthy, doing things as a family and setting goals,” according to Romero’s official website, www.jordanromero.com. To spread the philosophy, “Team Jordan” is highpointing the 50 states — climbing the highest peak in each — and visiting communities along the way, inviting people to climb with them.
“The message is kids living a healthy lifestyle and doing things with their family — to dream big,” said Jordan Romero on Tuesday afternoon after leaving Baxter State Park with his father, Paul Romero, and stepmother, Karen Lundgren, his companions on all of his major climbs.
Together, the three have climbed to the Seven Summits, the tallest peaks on all seven continents.
Jordan Romero, who lives in Big Bear Lake, Calif., was 10 years old when he hiked to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro (19,340 feet in elevation), the highest point of Africa. He then hiked Russia’s Mount Elbrus (18,510 feet) and South America’s Mount Aconcagua (22,841 feet) in 2007; the United State’s Mount McKinley (20,320 feet) in 2008; Australia’s Mount Carstensz Pyramid (16,024 feet) in 2009; and Mount Everest (29,029 feet) in 2010, when he was 13 years old.
That particular journey ended with Vinson Massif (16,050 feet in elevation) in Antarctica on Christmas Eve of 2011. On that day, Jordan Romero became the youngest climber in the world to complete the Seven Summits, at the age of 15 years, 5 months and 12 days.
“I’m doing my dream, what I want to do,” he said. “We’re just going to keep doing our thing and live life to the fullest.”
Now Jordan Romero is pursuing his next goal with “Find Your Everest.”
Jordan Romero arrived in Maine on Sunday and visited Mount Desert Island on Monday, where he talked with families at the Mount Desert Island YMCA, went stand-up paddle boarding and spent time enjoying the island. It was his first trip to the Pine Tree State.
“It’s pretty much the corner of the country, the end of the country, so we thought we’d start the tour here,” he said. “When I first arrived here, it was great weather.”
But the weather forecast didn’t bode well for their hiking day. When they rolled into Wilderness Edge Campground on Millinocket Lake on Monday evening, they expected challenging weather. And while steady rain typically deters hikers from attempting to reach Baxter Peak of Mount Katahdin, Team Jordan didn’t plan on canceling.
“They’ve climbed Everest, so I don’t think a little rain is going to stop them from going up Katahdin. I think it’s a moot point,” said Clay Abney, Romero’s public relations agent on Tuesday afternoon.
Larry and Anna Hallett opened Wilderness Edge Campground about a year ago. They were pleasantly surprised when the family of star athletes entered their campground, which is just 15 minutes south of the entrance to Baxter State Park.
“They laid out a red carpet for us that was second to none,” said Paul Romero. “They treated us to the best reception dinner. All around, we were pretty charmed.”
Team Jordan offered to bring the Hallett’s 15-year-old son, Ryan Hallett, and his friend Noah Ingersoll, also 15, on the hike with them.
“Both Ryan and Noah have been up Katahdin before,” Anna Hallett said. “My son goes several times every year, but it was really special to go with Jordan.”
On Tuesday morning, the team of five hiked 3.3 miles to Chimney Pond, then continued up the 2.2-mile Saddle Trail to Baxter Peak (5,267 feet in elevation). Rivers ran high and rainwater flowed down portions of the trails.
“It was definitely a challenge getting up waterfalls and such,” said Jordan Romero. “It was more of an adventure to get up there today, but that’s what we live for … it just kept us on our toes for everything that could happen. We were barely able to see anything on the ridge.”
“I’ll tell you what, they were up and down I think in less than five hours, to the peak and back,” said Anna Hallett. “I mean, it was crazy, in the rain and everything … It was such a neat opportunity for the boys. They’ll never forget it.”
“I’d love to say to Ryan and Noah who came up with us, that I’m glad you came up the first mountain of the tour with us — the more the merrier,” said Jordan Romero. “So, thank you. You guys were strong. You guys were totally chillin’ up there.”
Team Jordan members left Maine in their RV on Tuesday evening and indicated that Katahdin had presented a fun challenge for the group.
“It was not a ‘gimme,’ Mt. Katahdin of Maine proved to be a big, wet beast,” Jordan Romero wrote in his blog.
From Maine, they planned to drive to Vermont to hike Mount Mansfield on Wednesday, then backtrack to New Hampshire to hike Mount Washington on Thursday.
“I don’t know what it is — I just love the outdoors,” said Jordan Romero. “Reaching that summit is a great feeling, reaching that goal. And it also feels great to get down safely. I love being in the mountains — it’s so remote out there.”
“Find Your Everest,” planned as a two-year project, will end on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii.
Tour dates will be updated regularly on www.jordanromero.com and on the Facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/Find-Your-Everest/324335447580136.