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FARMINGTON – Piedra Vista High School students learned what it takes to climb some of the highest mountains in the world from speaker Jordan Romero and a panel of local mountain climbers on Thursday.

The event was held as part of Piedra Vista’s Summer Reading Program. Romero’s book “No Summit Out of Sight” was one of eight books assigned to every student to read during the summer as part of the program.

Students filled the seats of the Turano-Chrisman Performing Arts Theater to hear the 19-year-old Romero talk about his book, which details how he became the youngest person to climb the so called "Seven Summits" – the highest peak on each continent. Romero accomplished the feat by the age of 13.

During his presentation, Romero detailed how he trained and raised money to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania when he was 9 years old and described his trip to reach the 29,049-foot-summit of Mount Everest in Nepal when he was 13.

Romero wanted to share how reaching the summit of the seven peaks was one of the toughest things he has done in life. He said it made him take responsibility for himself and become a better team player, making it easier to accomplish his goals.

“I think it was Mount Denali (in Alaska) that really changed me and brought me forth as more of a contributing team member to our team of three, climbing all these mountains,” Romero said during the assembly.

PV junior Samantha Begay was one of the students who read Romero’s book and found it fascinating. She said she didn’t know mountain climbing required so much training and equipment.

The book also put things in perspective for her as far as achieving her goals. Begay said if Romero could climb a mountain when he was 10 years old, she should be able to accomplish her goals at 17.

After Romero’s presentation, several local mountain climbers came on stage to share stories of their trips. Lt. Mark Pfetzer of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Department,  Durango, Colo., resident Kurt Blair and Keith McPheeters, deputy chief of the Farmington Police Department, shared their tales of mountain climbing with the students.

Two members of the group detailed their experience of being on Mount Everest during dire times. Pfetzer was there in 1996 when a storm killed eight climbers, an episode that was detailed in the book “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer and in the recently released film “Everest." Blair was on Everest in April when a massive earthquake hit Nepal and killed more than 9,000 people.

“It was quite dramatic," Blair said. "We were having lunch, and the ground started shaking, and the tent started shaking. All the avalanches started to come down around us."

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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