8-year-old boy hopes to become the youngest to climb El Capitan. But is he safe?

8-year-old boy hopes to become the youngest to climb El Capitan.  But is he safe?

An 8-year-old boy hopes to become the youngest climber to reach the top of El Capitan, one of the most famous rock formations in the Sierra Nevada and located within Yosemite National Park in California. It is widely considered a challenge for experienced climbers only.

Sam Baker, who has been training about three times a week for the difficult climb, has already started climbing the steep vertical rock face with his father, Joe Baker.

The elder Baker told “Good Morning America” ​​that his son has been rock climbing almost his entire life, since he was 2 years old.

The father and son duo, who have been training for the past two years, plan to ascend more than 3,000 feet of granite together, with the help of equipment, anchors and ropes.

PHOTO: Joe Baker and his eight-year-old son, Sam, talk about their trip to climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in October 2022. They are preparing to make their ascent early in the morning on October 25.  2022.

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Joe Baker and his eight-year-old son, Sam, talk about their trip to climb El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in October 2022. They are preparing to climb early on the morning of October 25, 2022.

Sam is not the only young man to take on El Cap, as he is informally known. Selah Schneiter She was just 10 years old when she made history as the youngest climber to summit El Capitan in June 2019.

Climbing El Capitan is serious business and fraught with danger and risk, leading some to question whether the activity is suitable or safe for youngsters in the first place.

the National Park Service notes that, on average, there are about 100 climbing-related accidents in Yosemite National Park each year, and climbers in the past have been seriously injured or have died from injuries sustained while climbing in Yosemite.

Emily Haringtona professional rock climber, he has been climbing for the last 26 years and twice climbed El Capitan.

“There are several ways to get to the top of El Cap,” Harrington told “GMA.” “The most common and the most frequent [used] one is called aid climbing, which is when you use ropes and protection. You’re actually using those things to help you climb the wall, and that’s probably been done by thousands of people.”

When it comes to Sam’s ascent to El Capitan, Harrington said he didn’t see it as an overly risky adventure.

“From my point of view, the way this kid and his dad climb El Cap is aid climbing, so they’re essentially using the protection to ascend the wall, which is actually quite safe,” the 36-year-old said. said the old athlete.

“When I first heard it, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a cool adventure for a kid to have with their dad, as long as their motivation is there,'” she continued. “If he’s excited to be there and have an affair with his dad, I don’t see [issue] with him at all in terms of safety and risk. It’s not a dangerous way to climb.”

PHOTO: The El Capitan monolith in Yosemite National Park in California on June 4, 2015.

Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

The El Capitan monolith in California’s Yosemite National Park is shown on June 4, 2015.

Harrington, who said she started rock climbing herself when she was 10, considers rock climbing for kids a “great sport” in general.

As for the assisted climb of El Capitan specifically, he said he likened it to “a mountaineering adventure or a vertical camping adventure.”

“The level of risk you take depends a lot on the style you choose to climb, so you can make it as safe or not as safe as you want depending on how you choose to climb it,” Harrington said. height, so it’s a wonderful adventure no matter how you do it.

Baker told “Good Morning America” ​​after his first day at El Cap that he and his son were enjoying their adventure so far.

“We’re having fun. This is the first night, then we’ll have two nights after this. And then we’ll have a night on the summit. Our big days are coming up,” Baker said.

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