The youngest person ever to climb Mt. Everest has a new dream.
“My driver’s license,” said 16-year-old Jordan Romero before a crowd of seventh graders.
At Oak Middle School Thursday, Romero, who at 13 climbed earth's tallest mountain, talked about his journey to the top of the world, his next set of goals (including learning to drive) and his tips on how students can follow their own dreams.
Romero has already followed his share of dreams: He’s also the youngest person to climb the tallest mountain on each of the earth’s seven continents, a childhood goal he fulfilled December 2011.
A resident of Big Bear, Romero said that when he was 9 years old, he saw a picture of the tallest mountains in the world in school and was fascinated.
Romero spent the rest of the day looking up more information about the peaks and eventually told his dad he wanted to climb them all.
It was rough going at first, Romero said, especially the training.
“Walking uphill for hours on end is not exactly a 9-year-old's idea of fun,” he said.
But Romero was determined.
He had to raise money for each trip, ranging from about $800 per person (his dad, stepmom and himself) to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro – the tallest mountain in Africa – to $50,000 per family member for Everest.
And after he climbed Kilimanjaro at 10 years old, he kept going.
Height (in feet)
Numbers and dates courtesy Team Jordan Romero
Even to this day, Romero said he doesn’t know why he decided to do it, but he said it was “worth it all in the end."
“Being on the top of the world was the most amazing feeling you could ever think of,” Romero said. “You feel like you can see halfway across the world.”
With his seven-summit goal complete, Romero’s newest goal is the Find Your Everest tour, during which he plans to climb the tallest mountain in each of America’s 50 states.
Also on the tour, he hopes to encourage kids to eat right, stay healthy and follow their dreams.
“It’s the most amazing natural high that you can get, accomplishing your dream,” Romero said.
His advice to the middle school students? Pick a challenging goal, find out what steps they need to take to get there and take the first step.
And then keep going.
“They can do anything they want to in the world,” Romero said in an interview afterward. “They just need to go out and work for it.”
Before ending his final speech of the morning, Romero asked the students in the school gym to close their eyes and think of their big dream.
“I want you to imagine taking one step forward,” Romero said. “You are now one step closer to accomplishing your goals.”
“Climb ever higher,” he added, echoing the school’s very motto. “Find your Everest.”
After the presentation, he gave signed copies of his book, The Boy Who Conquered Everest, to school Principal Sally Neiser and Assistant Principal Darrenn Platt.
Platt said Romero is a role model.
“Lots of people dream and then stop and watch TV and never accomplish anything,” Platt said. “The reason we brought him here is that he’s living out our goal of climbing ever higher. “
After his talks Wednesday, Romero met and shook hands with students and signed autographs. Romero said he’s already spoken in at least 40 cities across the nation.
“Ah, yeah, I high-fived the guy that climbed Everest,” said one of the students on his way out of the gym.
Before ending his speech, Romero answered questions from the audience and from Patch.
Q. How long did it take to reach the top of Everest?
A. 50 days.
Q. What’s your favorite superhero?
Q. What’s your dream car?
A. A Jeep.
Q. Do people treat him differently now?
A. At first, he said, everyone congratulated him after he climbed Everest. But he said, as a few years have gone by, he said “I’m treated exactly like normal kid, which is how I want to be treated."