Paul and Jordan Romero share a unique father-son passion that takes them to the top of the world. Paul, 47, of Squamish B.C., and Jordan, 20, who attends university in Salt Lake City, Utah, have climbed the Seven Summits, the highest mountain peaks on each continent. While Paul’s father guided him into adventure and sport, it was Jordan who helped his own dad reach new heights. At just nine years of age, Jordan began formulating his Seven Summits dream, inspired by a mural at his California elementary school.
“My interest from reptiles took a 90-degree shift to wanting to climb the highest summit on all seven continents,” says Jordan.
Dad said, “why not?” and at 12, Jordan was building fitness in the gym, sleeping in a high-altitude tent, living, breathing and preparing to climb one of the summits every year for seven years, including Mount Everest.
“Jordan grew up around thinkers and people who went big and dreamed big. It was years of training, fundraising, trips, missing school, schooling abroad,” says Paul, an elite ultra-runner and coach who splits his seasons between homes in Squamish, B.C. and Maui, Hawaii. “I put him to the test. I wanted to see if he had it in him to climb mountains, to be tough, to be strong for hours. Well, it turned out the kid is tough as nails and wanted to climb high mountains.”
Paul had to petition the Chinese government to get a special hiking permit for his young son. He took flak from media, both mainstream and social, about the decision to climb with such a young boy.
“We decided to go the north side, north face, controversial, more difficult, unsupported, no rescue, the wild west of Mount Everest,” says Paul. “People die there every year, every day up there. But I knew we had a team second to none.”
On May 22, 2010, the family, including Jordan’s stepmom, Karen Lundgren, reached the summit. Jordan, at 13, became the youngest person to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The seven-year plan accelerated and by the time he was 15, Jordan became the youngest person to reach the summits of the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents.
“Doing this with Jordan meant everything to me. All our eggs were in one basket shooting for something big – this was a lifelong quest in Jordan’s young life and it was something pretty stout for me and Karen,” says Paul. “There was a lot of public scrutiny and distaste for what we were doing, but ultimately it was incredible, just letting Jordan do what Jordan wanted to do. This was just an extension of our lifestyle.”
Jordan fits in an extensive speaking schedule around his environmental sciences studies and dad couldn’t be more proud. “Jordan is grounded, humble and grateful for everything he has accomplished in life,” says Paul. “He doesn’t wear that hat out and about. He did what he did and knows that it was very special. It’s incredible motivation for youth around the world.”
The Romeros hope their next big adventure takes them back to the Himalayas. Until then, there’s father-son surf time in Maui and mountain running in the B.C. wilderness.