A9-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 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 professional climber Lhawang Dhondup.
“You can really see the world’s atmosphere up there. All the clouds are under you, and it’s really cold,” Tyler said. “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 receive permits to climb Aconcagua each year make it to the summit, said Nicolas Garcia, who helped plan the climb. Usually, no one younger than 14 is allowed, so the family had to convince 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 1 1 / 2 years to prepare for the climb. He also held fundraisers, not only to help with the cost but to raise money for CureDuchenne, a nonprofit group that funds research for a type of muscular dystrophy.
“He’s doing it to help other people; I think the judge recognized that,” said his father, an emergency medical technician.
“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,” Armstrong said.
“He’s a great dad,” Tyler said. “At 20,000 feet, he wanted to turn around, but I kept him going. And the day we were getting off the mountain, he had a blister and it popped. . . . He made it to the summit and everything, but that dang blister made him ride a mule.”
Aconcagua’s previous record-holder was Matthew Moniz of Boulder, Colorado, who was 10 when he reached the summit in 2008.
Tyler climbed the 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania at age 8 and is determined to reach all “seven summits,” the highest mountains on each of the seven continents. Next on Tyler’s list is Alaska’s Mount McKinley, North America’s tallest peak.