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Malibu's Johnny Strange, 17, becomes youngest to bag Seven Summits

JohnnyStrange.Everest2.May2009.PhotoBy.Scott Woolums

Three weeks ago, Malibu's Johnny Strange delivered a message from the top of Mt. Everest, stating, "Stop Genocide."

But he carries another message for fellow teenagers: Pursue your dreams and meet challenges head-on.

Strange, 17, after scaling the world's tallest peak at 29,035 feet, flew from the Himalayas to Australia and on Monday (Tuesday in Australia) strolled to the top of 7,310-foot Mt. Kosciuszko to become the youngest person in the world to have climbed the highest peak on seven continents, known collectively as the Seven Summits.

Strange beat a record held by Long Beach mountaineer Samantha Larson, who achieved the Seven Summits when she was 18.

Afterward Strange typed an e-mail to family and friends that read: "Never let anyone stifle your dreams no matter the feat, for if you have the heart and the courage, impossible is nothing."

It helps to have a wealthy attorney and fellow adventurer as a father, but this should steal nothing from Strange's accomplishment. He climbed Antarctica's Mt. Vinson when he was 12 to set this project in motion, and Everest is daunting for climbers of any age and experience level because of its perilously thin air and unpredictable nature (six climbers have died on Everest this season).

Strange reached the summit of Everest two days after Utah's Johnny Collinson stood on top of the world. Collinson also is 17 and he's trying to bag the Seven Summits within a calendar year.

Strange said he chose Kosciuszko instead of  Everest as his final Seven Summits peak because he wanted to tackle Everest "as a lone experience, not part of the Seven Summit goal."

--Pete Thomas

Photo: Malibu's Johnny Strange on the summit of Mt. Everest. Credit: Scott Wollums

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Comments (32)

Congratulations to Johnny Strange! I hope that in behalf of your achievement you will still be a down-to-earth person. Do not forget to turn back where you are from, for you to reach your goals in life.

Can anyone clear up one irksome fact. Johnny S and Johnny C didn't climb the same peaks. Who really got the real seven?

It was amazing to meet you today. You're a great, down to earth person.
Good luck on your next adventures, and be safe.(:

If a 13 year old is old enough climb Mt. Everest, why aren't they old enough to leave a post here?

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Is this the gentleman who was car surfing in Malibu?

I'm glad this thread has been revived ... the vitriol against this young man speaks to jealousy, and especially to the ego of many climbers and adventurers, the same ego that helps them accomplish their goals in earth's most trying circumstances I suppose.

Still, it's no excuse to criticize Mr Strange. His accomplishments are breathtaking. Thank you for inspiring me today, Johnny.

I've bagged a few peaks up to 11,000 -- not even worth mention against the 7 summits. To all those that disparage this boy's accomplishment, any mountain is serious hard work -- plus you have to keep your head on your shoulders to get yourself and your partners down in one piece. The money just gets you to the bottom of the slope -- then the hard work begins.

To the nasty, bitter, haters posting on here.... Wow. You are all wrong. Rich kids, the ones that grow up in Malibu and Manhatten, they don't push themselves to do courageous acts. They party in Hollywood, start "handbag" lines and basically try to do whatever they can to get on a reality show. My opinion when I read this.... " Cool, a rich kid that did something amazing with his life. Kudos." In my opinion, the poor kid, that comes from nothing, has a much easier time accomplishing feats like this than the rich kid. Most rich kids feel they are entitled to everything and expect their whole life to be handed to them on a gold and diamond platter. ( I should know, I grew up in Bedford, NY) But not this kid, he went after his dreams and accomplished them. He deserves a lot of credit for that. Especially because he is a Malibu, rich kid. Go see what other kids in Malibu are doing and then come back here and post your comments. (I've lived in Malibu too) So, Johnny, don't stop doing what your doing.. don't let angry people interfere and don't ever become like your rich kid friends...

"I would rank this accomplishment as lower than graduating from high school for a 17 year old: It takes far more hard work, perseverance, and concentration to do the latter."


This is an incredible feat. It's a shame people feel the need to disparage him, but then again the world is full of small, bitter people who can only make themselves feel better by belittling the accomplishments of others.

"Collinson also is 17 and he's trying to bag the Seven Summits within a calendar year"

a full run of the 7 summits is around $170K give or take.

That's a lot of money to burn through in one year.

But I'm sure Paris Hilton could do it in a month... and she could bag WAY more than 7.

I personally know that Johnny climbed with a group going up Everest, not on a 'private.' His guide being Vern Tejas. The same guide who led all the other climbers up that day. I can also tell you that unless you were 6'4', you weren't 'carrying' Johnny anywhere. Just do what makes you happy John, you are not living your life for these jealous haters.

I think most of the negative people are missing the point. This boy, regardless of how much money he does or doesn't have, made a conscious effort not to waste his life by sitting on his butt, playing video games, and doing nothing! He set goals and achieved them, regardless of what they were. This is something to be extremely proud of, especially in a time when many 17 year olds are too busy wondering which party they should go to and which lie to tell their parents to get there.

Johnny is a good role model for any child from any demographic - wealthy or not. I also believe Johnny utlized lots of sponsors to help him through his trek - something any of us could also do if we have the gumption to get off our butts, stop complaining, and do something with our lives!

Keep up the awesome work Johnny!

I think a lot of people are missing the key point here - it is not about money and Little Johnny's rich Dad - nor it is about some of the comments alleging jealousy.
It is about honesty and integrity - Brian S' revelation that Johnny did not actually do what he is saying he did.

If Johnny was indeed short-roped and carried to the top of Vinson, then HE actually has NOT climbed the seven summits and should board the next plane to Antarctica to complete the accomplishment he is now boasting about before he loses a chance at the true record. Likewise, if there was cheating on the other six summits, he should own up to that as well.

Someone should call Conan O'Brian and let him know that he might as well have had Barry Bonds on his show instead. Johnny - go erase the asterisk!!!!

Self indulgent rich brat, please spare us the "Stop Genocide" comments. Climbing the Seven Summits is nothing more than rich people's adventure travel (spoken from a fellow climber that has done 5 of the 7). Johnny, you should be proud of your accomplishment, but your nobody's hero so please don't preach to us. If you really care about those causes why don’t you join the Peace Core or something and go make a difference. If not, then just enjoy and be proud of your adventures, but get off your high horse. By the way, try a little humility Johnny; it would serve you well in life. I will give Johnny credit, having the mental toughness to start with Vinson in Antarctica at age 12. But I happen to know that Johnny was short roped to the top of Vinson and the rest of his team carried a good chunk of his load up the hill (his Dad bought him a private guide to personally short rope him to the top). In my opinion, if he really wants an honest Seven Summits title he needs a repeat of that mountain. Just speak with anyone that was on the Vinson climb in 2004, heck of an accomplishment just being there for a 12 year old and climbing most of the mountain unassisted, but not an honest summit.

If my parents were billionaires I could not have climbed those mountains, and I don't think the fact that the travel and climbing are expensive means that they aren't also incredibly challenging. Money provides the opportunity; it does not put one foot in front of the other.

All resources spent on climbing mountains just for the sake of doing it are resources that could be better spent in ways that benefit the poor--and so could every dime spent on the golf course, at the mall, at the hairdresser, nail salon, or on Cheetos. So I can sit here and shake my head about the thousands that family spent on letting Johnny follow his dream, but only if I ask myself why I spend a hundred dollars a month on my kids' martial arts classes, or why I just spent $500 on landscaping our yard.

If Johnny is reading this, the thing I'd ask him to keep in mind for the long run is that there are a many teenagers who would learn and grow a lot from exposure to climbing--even at really intro levels. It would be great if he could throw some energy into scholarships for real climbing schools (not Outward Bound). I've worked with enough inner city teens to know that many of them have never been out of the city, have never had a physical challenge in an environment safe from physical aggression, and haven't met anyone as driven as most climbers are. It would be a life- changing opportunity for them.

Money and only money made it possible , a trip to the everest cost around $25000 the 7 other trip in air fare alone cost around $ 35000 . as far as climbing the mt kosciuszco in australia iy's a walk not a climb so is the antartica trip and the kilimandjaro,the others , it all depend which route they took and on which season do the matterhorn in february north face and come back and talk about it , only a handfull of peoples have made it to talk about .And yes I know absolutly nothing about climbing moutain aside the fact been born and raised in the Alps it was the "only"way to get some fun time ,this is nothing else but a spoiled brat story .no wonder the dad's charge so much for a photocopy at his

I think its great what this boy has done. There will be haters- yes, there will, but with success comes envy and jealousy. Let is roll off ya kid!

Always nice to hear a kid fed with silver spoon to tell us that nothing in impossible , now let's remove that silver spoon and he might be lucky if he climb Mount wilson out of los angeles . Climbing the everest is nothing these days , there are more challenging mountain within the same range , some more dangerous in europe and south america . just another spoiled brat

This is an inspiration. We are proud of you Johnny. To those of you which find this a simple matter please note: Yes, this is a boy from a wealthy family. So is Paris Hilton...look what she has accomplished in her life. This boy is not a drug addict, he is setting a good example and encouraging youths to follow their dreams. Last weekend I hiked a 1,000 foot elevation in the Delaware Water Gap with a group of boy scouts. It was a hike, not a climb...we were tired. This boy had the right tools, and succeeded. If you ever watched Everest on Discovery Channel you would realize there are many people that attempt but do not succeed. Also, 6 people have died in this year's attempt. It is not a simple task and Johnny has every right to be proud! He holds a world record, how many do you have?

Johnny - Great accomplishment. Jenn and I hiked Kili with you (and your mom) when you were only 12 or 13 years old. That was some fun time freezing in the dark, throwing up on each other at 19,000', esp. when we were the only ones not to have gotten altitude sickness the whole trip. You were an unusually prescient, cool and strong kid at 12 and glad to see you have only bult on it. Hats off and best of luck on the rest of your life's adventures. Aloha. Barry

Anyone who thinks this is no great accomplishment is out of their mind. People train for months, years to be able to summit Everest and the others. Even after so much training and in the excellent physical condition that is necessary to complete such tasks, not everyone makes it back down. The fact that Johnny Strange started his conquest at the age of twelve and finished at 17 years old is incredible. I'm only 21 and I am so envious of his achievements. I dream of attaining the same goals someday and am proud of the message he is trying to get across. Whether he has money or not is out of the question. Millions of kids are financially priveleged...how many of them have scaled the 7 summits? Stop hating and admit that what Johnny did was incredible.

Mikeg im not trying to be philosophical im just trying to encourage people to go for thier goals whether its winning a basketball game or being the best player on the team etc. Its people like you who make me feel I need to prove myself and If you think my life is some perfect family bs you have no idea what your talking about. I will continue to go for my goals and make people aware of parkinsons disease and genocide and if all of this only inspires one person just to try a little harder at whatever theyre aiming for, Its worth all the criticism in the world so keep it coming. I wont back down.

Johnny Strange should be proud of his incredible accomplishment. Climbing the “7 Summits” at age 17 is awesome. Mountaineering is an incredibly difficult sport. Unlike some who have commented above who are either uninformed or ignorant regarding the difficulty of high altitude mountaineering, I have climbed Kilimanjaro, El Pico de Orizaba, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Shasta, and Mt. Hood. I consider myself to be in very good shape and they weren’t easy for me. I can’t imagine how difficult it is at 29,035 feet on Everest. Don’t listen to people who have class envy problems or have such miserable lives that all they spend all their time belittling the accomplishments of others. Relax bitter people, he is only 17.

A great accomplishment for him personally? Of course! Does it mean anyone can accomplish anything they set their mind to? Doubtful. If it was easy just because he was rich, had the benefit of the best training and equipment money could buy, and had been encouraged in this by his father since he was small, we would probably see more rich kids accomplishing this. What really impresses me is the middle age salary man who saves up for years, trains when he can, and juggles family or work to accomplish this. Should Johnny be proud? Yes! Has he earned the right to wax philosophical about what is possible for humanity....again, doubtful.

To Tiffany Alvarez and Paula thanks for the encouragement! And to anthony c im headed to carstens pyramid shortly. Also to the other people commenting I dont know if you're climbers or not but saying some boy scouts could go run up these mountains is pretty disrespectful to the people who have perished on them. Im not trying to start another pointless online argument but you dont know me or what ive been through so maybe you shouldnt judge me just yet.
p.s. Thanks again for all the positive encouragement Tiffany and Paula, that was nice of you.



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