Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Posted by Jeff Lipshaw
In the gym today, I was reading an article in Outside that reminds me of a Law & Order plot's back story. I don't know anything about family law, but I do write about judgment, and while I'm generally loathe to second-guess reasonable ones, and have a fairly strong libertarian streak, this one seems to call out for - well, if not the Department of Social Services, then maybe some friends' intervention? If that's possible.
The story is about 13 year old Jordan Romero, who with his somewhat wacko sounding father, and his father's more grounded sounding partner, has climbed five of the Seven Summits - the highest peaks on each continent - and is planning an Everest expedition this May from the Tibet side, and without professional guides. (Some of the exchanges with the kid and his parents reminded me of that L&O episode with the totally dominating father who controls everybody in the family.) As far as I could tell, not a single mountaineering professional thought this was a good idea - but it sounds like "hockey parents" gone mad. (I may be influenced by the fact that I am not a climber but I am a climbing story aficionado, likely brought on by the fact that one of my former law partners, Lou Kasischke, was a participant and minor character in the tragic 1996 Everest climb that Jon Krakauer wrote about in Into Thin Air.)
I don't know diddly about family law, or how the state goes about protecting children from really dumb parents, so I don't know how much leeway is given, or whether this is even controversial from a legal standpoint. I invite comments. But I'm willing to take a stand and say, even if the young man returns safely, this is really stupid! If he wants to climb Everest when he's 21, more power to him! But there is no reason that a child needs to be doing this, and you can't persuade me that he's made the decision to do it as a knowing and consenting adult.