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?
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!