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Aidan Gold
Aidan Gold, right, pauses on his climb up Island Peak, as climbing sherpa Namgye Sherpa looks on.
(Photo: Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

The Little Mountain Climber Who Could
By Ezra Billinkoff

Thursday, January 5—Aidan Gold has an unusual hobbyfor an 8-year-old: climbing mountains. In November 2005, the 8-year-old from Bothell, Washington, completed a four-month peak-scaling adventure with his family. They traveled from Switzerland to Kathmandu in Nepal making several stops along the way.

The trip ended with Aidan's successful climb of Island Peak, a 20,300-foot mountain in the Himalayas. According to the Nepal Mountaineering Association, an organization for mountain climbers, Aidan is the youngest person to ever reach the summit, or top.

Before Island Peak, Aidan had scaled Haustock Mountain (10,400 feet) and Monch Mountain (13,400 feet) in the Alps. He also reached the top of Awi Peak near Mount Everest, a 17,200-foot climb.

Aidan said he is is proud of his hobby and mentioned some difficulties he has faced on the peaks. "I got cold two times in Nepal. No times in Switzerland," he said. "Boy, a morning at 17,000 feet is cold."

Aidan says he likes mountain climbing for its challenge and for the views he sees while walking. At only four feet and sixty pounds, Aidan appears to be not only one of the world's youngest climbers, but one of the smallest too. He climbs most mountains with his father, Warren, an associate professor at the University of Washington in Bothell.

Warren said he wanted his sons to experience something that had been mostly unspoiled by humans. "A mix of wonder and adventure," he said. "That's what you get in the mountains."

An Early Start

Aidan climbed his first mountain when was 3 years old. He was good at focusing even at a young age, so his first climb up Mount Si in Washington was easier than expected.

Along with his love for mountains, Aidan is also a storyteller. He won a competition for original stories in Seattle, near where he lives. He is also a fan of origami, a Japanese art form of folding colored paper. He decorates his home with many designs, including some of his own original designs.

Warren, Aidan's father admits that the mountain-climbing hobby is riskier than Aidan's other activities. "There are dangers with all of this," Warren said. "But I really think the most dangerous thing we did the whole trip was crossing the street in Kathmandu."


Nova Online
Check out this site from Nova to learn more about mountain climbing. You'll find information on survival skills if you're trapped out in the snow, and lots more!

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