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SoCal boy, 9, youngest to reach Aconcagua summit

  • This Dec. 24, 2013 photo released by Lhawang Dhondup shows Tyler Armstrong, from Southern California, standing by a cross on the summit of Aconcagua Mountain in Argentina. The 9-year-old boy has become the youngest person in recorded history to reach the summit of Argentina's Aconcagua mountain, the tallest peak in the Western and Southern hemispheres. (AP Photo/Lhawang Dhondup)

"You can really see the world's atmosphere up there. All the clouds are under you, and it's really cold," Tyler said, describing the summit to 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 30 percent of the 7,000 people who obtain permits to climb Aconcagua each year make the summit, said Nicolas Garcia, who handled their logistics from down below. No one under 14 is usually allowed, so the family had to persuade an Argentine judge that Tyler could safely accomplish the feat. In their case, they took the "Polish Glacier" route, which doesn't require climbing, and roped themselves together only when crossing steep ice-covered slopes.

"Any kid can really do this, all they have to do is try. And set their mind to the goal," said Tyler, who worked out twice a day for a year and a half to prepare for the climb. He also held fundraisers, not only to defray the cost but to raise money for CureDuchenne, which funds muscular dystrophy research.

"I think Tyler's record speaks for itself and because I think he's doing it for a good cause, he's doing it to help other people, I think the judge recognized that," said his father, an emergency medical technician. Tyler's mother is a pediatric neuropsychologist, and they also have another son, Tyler's younger brother Dylan.

"Most people think we as parents are pushing Tyler to do this, when it's completely the opposite. I wouldn't climb it if I didn't have to, but my wife makes me do it to keep watch on him," he said.


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