On Christmas Eve, Tyler Armstrong, a nine-year-old American boy, became the youngest person in recorded history to reach the summit of Mount Aconcagua, one of the Seven Summits and the tallest peak in the Americas.
The fourth grader from Yorba Linda, California, summited the 22,841-foot peak with his father, Kevin, and professional guide Lhawang Dhondupa, a Tibetan sherpa. The three followed the north-eastern, or "Polish Glacier" route, a common line of ascent that doesn't require technical climbing.
"You can really see the world's atmosphere up there. All the clouds are under you, and it's really cold," Tyler said, in an interview with The Associated Press. "It doesn't look anything like a kid's drawing of a mountain. It's probably as big as a house at the summit, and then it's a sheer drop."
Only about 2,100 out of the 7,000 who obtain permits for Aconcagua each year reach the summit. The mountain's oxygen-scarce heights, dangerous terrain, and bitter cold have claimed more than 100 climbers' lives. Since no one under 14 is usually allowed to climb the mountain, the Armstrong's family persuaded a Argentine judge that Tyler could safely accomplish the feat.
Tyler Armstrong has been climbing mountains since the age of seven. Last year, he summitted Mount Kilimanjaro, the second youngest person ever to do so. In 2011, Armstrong became the youngest to summit 14,505-foot Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the contiguous United States, in one day.
"Any kid can really do this," Armstrong told the AP. "All they have to do is try. And set their mind to the goal."