Scores of climbers will attempt to reach the summit of Mount Everest during the brief climbing season this May, but 13-year-old Jordan Romero is probably the only one who has brought his algebra homework.
If he succeeds, the teenager from Big Bear, California will be the youngest person ever to stand on top of the world's highest peak, an ambition he has harboured since he saw a mural of the mountain at school, aged just nine.
“I do feel a bit nervous, but I'm way more excited,” Jordan told AFP in Kathmandu on Sunday before starting his journey to the Everest base camp in Tibet.
“It's something I've always wanted to do before I die. I just happen to be doing it at this age. I happen to be going for a world record. But I just want to climb it.”
Jordan, who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya aged 10, is also hoping to become the youngest person ever to climb the highest mountains on all seven continents — with Everest the final hurdle.
From Kathmandu, he and his father and stepmother — both keen climbers — will drive over the border to Tibet, from where they will attempt to climb the 8,848-metre (29,029-ft.) peak via the north-east ridge.
To prepare, Jordan has been training hard for the past year, climbing the mountains of his native California carrying a heavy backpack and sleeping in a specially created tent that simulates the effects of altitude.
The record for the youngest climb of Everest is reportedly held by Temba Tsheri of Nepal, who reached the peak at age 16.
The decision to allow a 13-year-old child to climb a mountain that has claimed the lives of many adult mountaineers has sparked criticism, with some observers saying Jordan is too young to assess the dangers.
His father Paul, a paramedic, ruled out climbing from the Nepal side because he judged crossing the treacherous Khumbu icefall above base camp to be too dangerous. But the north-east ridge also has its dangers, including strong winds and avalanches.
Jordan defends the decision to climb, saying he has a strong support team and will turn back rather than taking any unnecessary risks.
“When I told my Dad I wanted to do the seven summits he was surprised that I had set a goal this big. He asked if I was sure I wanted to do this, and he always asks me if I am sure,” he said.
Keywords: Mountain expeditions