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7-year-old climbs Mt. Whitney in single day

Tyler Armstrong and his dad at the top of Mt. Whitney
At 7, Tyler Armstrong is missing his two front teeth and is getting ready to start second grade in a couple of weeks.

While some classmates will surely share the usual summer vacation tales, Tyler, the blond-haired Yorba Linda boy with a competitive streak, will tell of his dizzying adventure: climbing Mt. Whitney.

At 14,494 feet, it is the tallest mountain in the Lower 48. Tyler trekked to the summit late last month in a speedy seven hours and 50 minutes with his father, Kevin Armstrong.

“Tyler was pushing me up the mountain,” Armstrong. “He was going faster than I’d ever gone before. The fastest I’d ever done it was nine hours.”

While no official records are kept, Tyler is among the youngest to hike Mt. Whitney in a single day, his father said.

“He was just determined to get to the top of the mountain,” Armstrong said.

The young boy’s fascination started with a documentary about hiking that he watched with his father, who at 11 also climbed Mt. Whitney with his father.

“At first, I didn’t think he was serious,” Armstrong said when Tyler told him he wanted to hike the mountain. “I thought it was just going to be something he never did.”

But Tyler was determined. He began training in January, adopting a regimen that included running on the treadmill several times a week and around a nearby lake. He also began hiking smaller mountains in Southern California every month.

By the end of July, he was ready. They spent a day and a half at the mountain’s base camp so they could adapt to the climate and thin air and set off at 2:05 a.m. on July 26.

Shortly before 10 a.m., the pair were signing their names in a log book at the top of the mountain.

Except for a minor trip where Tyler cut his knee on a rock and some altitude sickness at the summit, the hike was successful.

“I feel proud,” Tyler said Thursday morning before getting dropped off at summer camp. “I got to do stuff that not a lot of 7-year-olds can do.”

The experience, he said, “was fun."

"I got to spend time with my dad for three days,” he said.

Now, he excitedly tells of plans to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, which has an age restriction. Tyler has to wait until he turns 10, but he’s hoping his father can secure a special permit so he can climb it as early as next year.

“I want to break the record, I can do it,” he says. “I’m ready for it. I’m not scared about Kilimanjaro.”

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-- Ricardo Lopez

Photo: Tyler, right, and Kevin Armstrong at the top of Mt. Whitney. Credit: Kevin Armstrong

 
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