This week, a father and son duo initiated an attempt to climb El Capitan at Yosemite National Park in California. The feat would make the 8-year-old boy the youngest person ever to climb the world-renowned peak. Rising more than 3,000 feet above the valley floor, you don’t have to be a climber to comprehend that El Capitan is a challenging climb. One of the most famous rock formations in the Sierra Nevada, located within Yosemite, it’s widely regarded as a tall task intended for experienced climbers only. Sam and Joe Baker are currently in the middle of their route after beginning on Tuesday. If the duo succeeds, second-grade Sam will be the youngest known person on record to scale the peak.
Sam Adventure Baker of Colorado Springs is not like most kids—he was born-ready. For starters, his middle is literally Adventure and he’s been climbing nearly his entire life, since the age of 2. Born into a climbing family, Sam’s parents Joe and Ann, fell in love with rock climbing, telling CNN, their son “was in a harness before he could walk.” According to the Family’s website SamAdventure.com, which chronicles Sam’s adventures and highlights his climbs, Sam mastered his first multi-pitch route at age 3 – at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, CO, and when he was 6 years old, Sam tackled the Lost Arrow Spire, a three-pitch climb that begins 2,500 feet above Yosemite Valley.
Fueled by candy, sugary snacks, and pasta dinners, Sam informed news outlets Day 1 was both “amazing” and “pretty easy” as he stuffed Sour Patch Kids into his mouth. The father-son team, who have been training for the past 2 years, plan to ascend more than 3,000 feet of granite together, aided by a team, anchors and ropes. Climbing in tandem with another pair, the journey is expected to take four days “of hanging from your fingers or hanging from your anchors,” Sam’s dad Joe Baker told CNN. While reaching the top of El Capitan would set records, that’s not Sam’s sole motivation for the attempt. He’s not in it for the glory, telling CNN:
“I’m looking forward to climbing with (my) daddy the most.”
Joe Baker has wanted to climb El Capitan with his son ever since he first heard about Selah Schneiter, a 10-year-old who made the ascent with her father in 2019, which has since been superseded by nine-year-old Pearl Jonson. Baker told CNN the weather is looking good for their summit—a little chilly but clear skies and no rain. Perfect conditions for a “Great adventure. A great family adventure.”
There is a significant amount of danger and risk involved in climbing El Capitan; it’s a serious undertaking that has led some to question whether young people should attempt the activity. According to The National Park Service, Yosemite National Park has, on average, 100 climbing accidents every year, and climbers have in the past been severely injured or died from climbing-related injuries.
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