California Boy, Youngest Climber Ever To Summit Western Hemisphere’s Tallest Mountain
While many of his friends celebrated the holidays with friends and family at home, 9-year-old Tyler Armstrong made history, becoming the youngest climber ever to reach the summit of the tallest peak in the Western hemisphere.
Various leading Argentinean media outlets reported that the Yorba Linda, California native reached the summit of Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina on Christmas, along with his father, Kevin, 30, and their guide Lhawang Dhondup, 50.
It was confirmed, Friday, in a Facebook post on a page dedicated to Armstrong's climbs that they had reached the summit on Christmas Eve.
"HUGE UPDATE: We are extremely proud and excited to officially announce that Tyler Armstrong has in fact broken the ACONCAGUA RECORD!!!! He was able to summit on Christmas Eve (December 24th)," the post read. "GO TYLER!!! Stand by for some awesome pics!"
Located near the Argentina-Chile border, at 22,837 ft. high, Aconcagua is considered one of the classic climbs for serious mountain climbers and is one of the famed "Seven Summits" – the highest mountains on each of the globe's seven continents.
According to Facebook, the young climber started his trek along the Rio de Las Vacas, in Mendoza, Argentina, after receiving permission from the local government to launch the effort.
The country only permits those 18 years or older to climb to the peak. According to Argentinean newspaper Clarin, the country’s secretary of the environment initially denied giving Armstrong the permit, but his father was able to show that his son is an experienced climber despite his young age.
The young Armstrong has already notched impressive climbs, including the highest peak in the contiguous United States, Mt. Whitney, and Africa’s highest summit, Mt. Kilimanjaro.
"It takes lots and lots of training," the boy told ABC News before his climb. "I had to do ice-climbing training, so if I fall I can stop myself and not slide down the mountain. We're really working on my abs a lot. All the weight from my backpack and all the stuff that I'm carrying goes where your abs are."
Updates of his trek were provided on Facebook, including the team reaching base camp at 14,300 feet and reaching "camp two" at 17,000 feet.
Although he was scheduled to climb to the summit between Dec. 26 and Dec. 29, a Facebook update said they decided to finish the climb to the peak due to inclement weather.
According to Clarin, an Argentinean government official confirmed that once the team made it to the summit, it began the descent down the mountain in good health. The official said the team is expected to reach home base between Friday and Saturday.
With his successful climb, Armstrong became the youngest to reach the summit of Arconcagua. The previous record holder was Matthew Moniz of Boulder, Colorado, who was 10 years old when he reached the summit on Dec. 16, 2008.
While Arconcagua is considered an easy climb compared to other nearby Karakorum peaks, it does not mean that it is safe. High altitude sickness and quick weather changes can cause frostbite and even death.
Armstrong took the easiest ascent trail – the Polish Glacier Traverse Route – which actually claimed the lives of five climbers in January 2009.
While this climb is a huge personal accomplishment for the boy, he is also trying to raise funds and awareness for the organization Cure Duchenne, which looks to find a cure for a form of muscular dystrophy that affects 300,000 boys worldwide.
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