It’s a story that divides parents and mountaineering experts around the world.
This week it was revealed that two-year-old Carter Dallas is believed to have become the youngest person to reach Everest base camp.
Carter, from Glasgow, reached the camp in Nepal, located at an altitude of 5,000 metres, on October 25. He completed the treacherous journey with his mother, Jade, 31, and father Ross, 35, who carried him on his back.
They are on a year-long trip through Asia, and did so on a “why” after landing in Kathmandu. Dad Ross, a former senior sales manager, said of the Everest hike: “Carter handled it better than me and his mother.
“We both had mild altitude sickness, but he was fine,” before adding that they were prepared for the trip as they all regularly practiced breathing techniques and ice bath dives.
For parents craving an adventure, traveling the world with a toddler may be the last chance for a good escape before a child’s school years narrow their horizons.
But is it responsible? Shouldn’t a toddler’s safety and stability outweigh a parent’s wanderlust?
Here are the opinions of our experts:
Kenton Cool, 50, British mountaineer who has climbed Everest 17 times
Obviously, the idea that this child is one of the youngest to reach base camp is ridiculous; Sherpa babies are born there all the time and are carried through the valleys on the backs of their parents and yaks.
But otherwise I think the story is actually quite fantastic. The parents have done a good job. They got their son to base camp with no ill effects, frostbite or dysentery, and they all seemed to have a great time. I have two children of my own and I don’t think I could have done this when they were younger.
Above all, it shows that you don’t have to put your life on hold when a child is on the way. Our country is so risk-averse. It’s great to see that a family went to Nepal for an adventure and had the courage to bring their young child along.
That said, there are definite risks associated with carrying a child. They don’t stay warm in the same way as those who walk, and they can’t communicate. But we should also remember that many families take their children to the Alps every year and reach great heights, either via hiking or cable cars.
Furthermore, Everest base camp is no longer as remote as it once was. I honestly believe that if this family had had a problem, they could have taken a helicopter and been to Kathmandu in half an hour. I also know that because I have been traveling to Nepal for over thirty years, the Sherpa community would have loved seeing this family out and about.
So yes, you have to be careful and careful on such a trip. But I’m very impressed that this family had such an adventurous spirit and managed to make it happen.
Dr. Jeremy Windsor, Director of the Center for Mountain Medicine, University of Central Lancashire
I am an expert in mountain medicine and know that there has been minimal research on how children so young react to being at this altitude. The Everest base camp is located very high – about 5,000 meters above sea level – and has no permanent habitation. We simply don’t know what this lack of oxygen does to the developing brain, but it is reasonable to assume that it could have a negative effect and possibly damage it.
I climbed Everest in 2007 and as part of the research looked at the effects of low oxygen levels on children aged five to fifteen. We discovered that most children cannot tolerate going above 3500 meters. [11,500ft]. They get tired, sick and cold. Going above this height is not that rewarding for them. In fact, it’s quite uncomfortable. They had reached their natural limit.
In Nepal it is common for young children to be taken on treks in the lower areas, where the altitude is 1,000 or 2,000 meters. [3,300 to 6,500ft].
Families often hire Sherpas to transport young children, and they take frequent breaks to let the child run around. But the paths are rocky and uneven and large yaks flow up and down.
Realistically, you can’t truly appreciate Everest base camp until you’re an adult. But having said all that, I don’t want to keep people away from the mountains. We are the least fit and active population ever. We should enjoy it, but not in this extreme way.
Sir Andrew Pollard, professor of infection and immunity at the University of Oxford
Climb Kilimanjaro [19,341ft] While in Tanzania last summer, I was reminded that the atmosphere up there is not thickening and there is much less oxygen than we enjoy at sea level.
I often saw helicopters rescue adult climbers suffering from severe mountain sickness and ferry them to the safety of the lowlands, and this is also the case on Everest.
When trekking in the Himalayas, around half of people will become unwell from acute altitude sickness, and a small proportion will die from more severe forms of the condition.
The problem with very young children is not so much that the risk of illness is greater, but more that they cannot tell you if they are not feeling well, and that, without action, some forms of altitude sickness can be fatal. If parents decide to travel to high altitudes with their children despite the potential risks, they should plan it carefully, allow extra time for acclimatization, carry an emergency medical kit for treating the disease and know how to recognize and treat it , but above all: going downhill. fast.
Dr. Sandra Wheatley, social psychologist at Potent Psychology
I live in Andorra with my husband and two children, aged fourteen and eight, so I know the benefits of the outdoors, and I understand why Carter Dallas’ parents wanted to give this child the experience he had.
We hike and ski regularly, and we all love the views, the fresh air and the absence of pollution. It also appears that these parents undertook this journey responsibly and made sure that their son had blood tests to check his oxygen levels, for example.
But as a psychologist and parent, I also know that two-year-olds don’t need this level of adventure. They won’t understand the borders, or that they are in a remote part of the world. They are only interested in themselves, want to be happy (they throw huge tantrums if that is not the case) and their basic needs – such as sleeping and eating – are taken care of.
They can and should have valuable adventures and be encouraged to try new things – whether they succeed or fail. But they can get this from the local park, or feed the ducks, or pick up a brother or sister from school.
They can also learn about bonding and being part of a family through a series of less extreme outings. This child will not remember the trip and it will not have made a lasting impression. But for his parents it is an unforgettable experience.
Sarah Campus, 35, a London-based personal trainer and family travel influencer
It’s great to introduce your kids to adventure, different foods and culture. But at the age of two, children are still very young.
Carter Dallas’ parents reported doing breathing exercises and ice baths with their child, but this is not recommended. These are difficult for even an adult to perform and would put far too much strain on a toddler’s body. I have three children – five, three and one year old, and none of them would want to do breathing exercises or anything other than downward dog.
I myself climbed Mount Kenya, which is at an altitude of 5,199 meters [17,057ft]. I suffered from illness, sleep disorders and dizziness. Everest base camp – which is a similar altitude – would be just as difficult.
There would be a risk of extreme temperatures, sometimes reaching -15 degrees Celsius, plus the risk of falls as some of those boulders would be very large. Kids need lots of snacks and fluids, and being so far from a decent-sized city could have been a problem.
I hate boring holidays with kids, and am ready to get off the beaten track, go camping and experience new cultures. But it should be done in an environment that is vaguely controlled so that you don’t endanger your child.