ON A COLD WEDNESDAY evening in December, the Big Bear Lake Performing Arts Center is crawling with kids. It's Warren Miller movie night in Big Bear Lake, a mountain burg above Los Angeles, and a scrum of local grommets, all shaggy hair and Hurley caps, are bouncing in their seats like monkeys on Red Bull.
"Dude, Chargers are the best. Raiders suck."
"Ew, dude, what's that on your shoe?!"
"Parker! Sit over here!"
In the midst of this attention-deficit festival, a tall, quiet kid makes his way down the aisle, stopping to talk to adults along the way. He has a shy smile and almond eyes that peek out from behind a parted curtain of wavy brown hair. His name is Jordan Romero. He is 13. In May, he plans to become the youngest person ever to climb Mount Everest.
If he makes it, Jordan could be one of the most famous kids of his generation: the Boy Who Climbed Everest. With more and more of his peers playing video games, fighting obesity, and contracting diabetes, he would serve as a powerful counterexample. He wants to inspire American kids to climb their own mountains. Or at least to go outside.
On this night, though, Jordan is hoping to inspire his neighbors to contribute some coin to his quest. It will cost Jordan about $40,000 to climb Everest, and his rope team also includes his father, Paul, 40, and Paul's partner, Karen Lundgren, 44, both pro adventure racers. Team Romero, they call themselves, and Everest is only a part of their goal. If Jordan can climb Everest and Antarctica's Vinson Massif, he will become the youngest person to have climbed the Seven Summits, the highest points on each continent. Few people have ticked their seventh peak before their thirties. Jordan could do it before he learns to shave.