Teen Climber: Too Young to Scale Mt. Everest?

Teen Climber: Too Young to Scale Mt. Everest?

At 13, Jordan Romero has already scaled the world's highest peaks on six different continents. Last week, he became the youngest climber ever to make it to the top of Mount Everest. It's an astounding feat that has killed 220 climbers before him.

"I try not to let it get to my head. That was the key," he told "20/20's" Elizabeth Vargas about blocking out the possibility of death while summiting Everest.

Jordan's father, Paul Romero, who accompanied him on the record-breaking summit, said he talked to his son beforehand about the dangers of Everest -- a mountain that, in recent years, has claimed the life of one climber for every 80 who summit. "It's a well-known fact. If you die up on Mount Everest you stay there. That's your grave."

While many hailed Jordan's accomplishment, some asked who would send a 13-year-old up the world's highest peak, which is also among the most dangerous.

"I trust him completely. And I have from a young age. He's never been an adrenalin junkie that seems to take unnecessary risks," said his mother, Leigh Anne Drake. "He's very comfortable with what he can do and ...what is beyond his range of ability."

Teen Climber: Too Young to Scale Mt. Everest?
Teen Climber: Too Young to Scale Mt. Everest?

But where does the line end between fulfilling a child's dream and reckless parenting? Ken Kamler, who has climbed on Mt. Everest six times and penned "Surviving the Extremes" -- containing his account of the 1996 Everest storm in which eight climbers died -- said Jordan's climb was overly risky.

"I would not send my son up there at the age of 13," said Kamler. "I think the other doctor climbers that I know are in agreement...I don't think it needs to be done -- I think he can wait until he is older."

Jordan, from the ski town of Big Bear Lake, California, in the San Bernardino Mountains, set his sights on climbing the seven summits at age nine.

VIDEO: Raw video: Jordan Romero faces severe winds, collapsed ice wall on Everest climb

While his mother may have initially expressed passive concern at her son's dream to climb the seven summits, Jordan's father, an air rescue paramedic and adventurer, trained him, and encouraged him to become the youngest American at the time to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro at age 10. Then, they moved on to the tallest peaks in Australia, Russia, Argentina and Mt. McKinley -- also known as Denali -- all before he turned 12. Next on the list was Everest.

Mt. Everest: A Climber's Ultimate Challenge

Everest has been the ultimate challenge for climbers for a reason. Kamler said brutally cold temperatures and strong winds create a wind chill factor worse than on Mars.

VIDEO: 13 Year Old Hiker Climbs Everest
13-Year-Old Jordan Romero Climbs Everest

"Climbers up there are really at their limit," he said. "Breathing at sea level requires only 5 percent of your energy, whereas... the summit of Everest, it would require 70 percent of your energy."

To prepare, Jordan had a vigorous training regimen. He pulled weighted tires up the hills near his home and spent nights in a reduced oxygen tent to prepare his lungs for the thin air at altitudes above 20,000 feet.

With six peaks already conquered, Team Jordan -- Jordan, his father and his father's girlfriend Karen Lundgren -- set out for Everest. At the base of the mountain, Jordan said as he stared up, he was not intimidated.

"The summit really looks so close like, you know, you think you could just pack a couple of water bottles and a fleece and just go," he said.

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