A 13-year-old boy from Big Bear Lake was more than 17,000 feet above sea level today on his north-side approach to the summit of Mount Everest.
"The daytime in the sun is awesome," Jordan Romero told a local wire service in an e-mail relayed from Tibet. "If you get out of the wind it is in the high 40s.
"I was wearing shorts and flip-flops the other day, but at night as soon as the sun goes down it is COLD, down into the single digits," Jordan wrote. "When we wake up in the a.m., there is always frost on our tents."
Jordan, who turns 14 in July, hopes to become the youngest person ever to climb the world's highest mountain. He and his team, including his dad, his dad's girlfriend and experienced Sherpas, hope to reach the summit later this month or in early May.
Everest tops out at more than 29,000 feet, where its summit is exposed to jet stream, gale-force winds and sub-freezing temperatures. Extreme altitude and low oxygen contribute to "death zone" conditions for all humans on the highest reaches on the mountain, above 8,000 meters.
"We are acclimatizing slowly and it is working well," Jordan said in his e-mail. "I am in charge of monitoring our team ... to see how they are feeling.
"I record the results in a little book," Jordan said. "Some of the things I monitor are: headaches, stomach problems, dizziness, sleeping, etc."
Gradual elevation gains during the team's overland travel from Kathmandu in Nepal have helped ease the transition. Their expedition so far has included a team of 40 yaks to haul nearly two tons of gear up to their Intermediate Base Camp at 18,900 feet above sea level.
Jordan said he is carrying a few keepsakes from previous climbs, to boost his team's chances on Everest.
"I have a lucky rabbit's foot, a pair of kangaroo testicles from my little friend Nigel, a cross from my grandfather and a beaded necklace from my friend Doug," Jordan said. "And I also have some good luck seeds that were blessed by a local monk here near the base camp."
Jordan and his support team departed for Asia from Los Angeles International Airport on April 6. They made stops in Hong Kong, Bangladesh and Kathmandu before crossing into Tibet last week.
Team Romero plans to climb the north side of Everest for two primary reasons, Jordan's dad Paul Romero told Outside magazine.
One reason is to avoid the treacherous Khumbu icefall on the south side's standard route in Nepal. Paul Romero and his girlfriend Karen Lundgren scouted the south side last May and decided it was too dangerous.
"It was like playing Russian roulette," Jordan's father told Outside. "We had giant serac collapses. Someone died. That convinced me I didn't want to take Jordan on the standard route."
Also key in their route decision: China has no minimum age requirement for climbing Everest. Nepal prohibits climbers under 16 on Everest since a decade ago when a 15-year-old Nepali boy lost several fingers during a summit attempt.
The expedition, coordinated with numerous sponsors, is costing roughly $150,000. In a recent photo on his approach, Jordan held up a small pennant for the Rotary Club of Big Bear Lake, and added a note: "Thanks for your help Rotary."