Friday May 21, 2010 10:45 AM EDT
Provided the weather holds, 13-year-old Jordan Romero will make the final push this weekend to become the youngest climber to reach the summit of 29,029-foot Mt. Everest.
The teen from Big Bear, Calif. – along with his dad, stepmom and three Sherpas – left a base camp earlier this week. With luck, they’ll reach the peak by Saturday.
“I’m more stoked than nervous,” says Romero, speaking to PEOPLE over a satellite phone from a tent in Nepal. “I’m feeling really good. Breathing isn’t too hard up here, but I’m definitely moving a little slower.”
To date, the youngest person to scale the peak is a 16-year-old Sherpa who made it to the top in 2001. Romero hopes that his climbing odyssey will “inspire other kids to get outside and to set goals.”
Romero (who arrived in Nepal in early April in an effort to get acclimatized for the oxygen-thin air on Everest after already ascending a handful of the world’s highest peaks) first started dreaming about climbing Everest when he was 9, then committed himself to doing it two years later.
Romero’s bid to climb Everest – which has claimed the lives of more than 200 mountaineers – has attracted a fair share of controversy because of his age. Even his mom says she gets butterflies in her stomach when contemplating what her son is attempting.
“To deny I don’t have mom anxiety would be lying,” says Romero’s mother Leigh Anne Drake. “But he’s been working toward this goal for a long time. It’s not like he just woke up one morning and decided to do this.”
Romero shrugs off the criticism. “Nobody is saying that I’m too young up here at base camp,” he says. “Age has nothing to do with it as long as I’m strong and experienced – and I am. I’ve climbed mountains all over the world. I’m ready for this.”
For more on Romero’s expedition, visit www.jordanromero.com.
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9