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How young is too young to start Mountaineering?

 

A sixteen year old climbed to the top of Mt. Everest this year. Now there's talk about others breaking that record.  Is it responsible of parents to let thier children climb at this level?  I'm thinking of taking my 14 year old niece on a glacier.  What are your thoughts?

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If that is what she wants to do I say take her up.

Last year a 13yo Jordan Romero Summited Everest
by the North Face with his dad and 3 Sherpas. No expensive guides.
Not to mention that the summit was #6 of the seven summits leaving
him only Mt Vinson. Jordan only decided he wanted
to climb when he was nine and his father supported him 
100% of the way. We should always support or childrens dreams
I think it is even better when we can be their to live them out by their sides.
Thanks Vaughan,

I'm with you. My one year old started climbing stairs, furniture, etc... before walking. We're in the process of putting up a small climbing wall in the yard. Some might argue that they don't understand the risks at this age. I think that must be balanced. Kids die of drowning, football, skateboard and bike head injuries, and skiing each year. I don't think most parents would stop their kids from doing these.

-Ali

Of course it depends on the mountain and the experience of the kid. Mt. Everest for anyone younger than 16 seems irresponsible because most adolescent brains don't develop critical thinking skills until around 16. Anyone climbing such a hazardous mountain should not have to rely on anyone else to think critically for them. History of that mountain (ie. 1996 disaster) has shown us the fatal consequences of relying on others too much. Anyway, I think other glaciers can be suitable for a 14 year old. If your niece is active and in shape, she should be fine with your guidance. Communicating often to make sure she's comfortable with the terrain will be key. Also, be prepared to turn around if she's not. You don't want to force her to do something she's not comfortable with, thus making the overall outdoor experience unpleasant. At a young age, fostering a love of the mountains should be the goal--not summitting. You also want to model safe climbing with reasonable risks, so just aim for balance and everyone should have a grand ol' time!

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