How it all started.
In December 2010, Tyler Armstrong was watching a documentary about a young man hiking the Great Divide trail in the United States. Tyler recalled seeing a home video of his father and friends climbing Mount Whitney a few years earlier and remembered his father telling him that he had climbed Mt. Whitney with his own father when he was a child. Tyler asked, “How old do I have to be to climb Mt. Whitney?” His dad explained that it was not really a person’s age that mattered, but whether the person was physically able to do it safely. Tyler then asked, “How old was the youngest person to climb Mt. Whitney?” After doing some internet research it looked like the youngest person to climb Mt. Whitney in a single day under their own power was a 9-year-old. While younger children have climbed Mt. Whitney in multiple days or been carried, completing the 22 mile, 6,000+ feet elevation gain climb in a single day was something that young children had not done under their own power.
Tyler’s dad thought he wasn’t really serious when Tyler said he wanted to break the record to be the youngest. His father still thought that Tyler was just like every other 6-year-old who talked about doing something but did not have the motivation to train for months. His father told him that if he wanted to climb Mt. Whitney he needed to work out every day, by jogging, walking on the treadmill, and climbing other smaller mountains.
The next day when Tyler’s dad got home from work, Tyler was wearing shorts, a T-shirt, and sneakers. Tyler told his father that he was ready to go jogging. That first day, Tyler was only able to run about ¼ mile without stopping. He continued to jog for another mile, but stopped about every ¼ mile for a rest. After finishing the jog, Tyler’s father thought that this would be the last he would hear Tyler talk about training and climbing.
However, the next day when Tyler’s dad got home from work, there was Tyler again dressed to go jogging. This time Tyler ran a little bit longer and faster. This same routine continued for the next few months. Then Tyler asked his father when they were going to go climb one of the local mountains. On Tyler’s first climb, he hiked about 8 ½ miles with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. Over the next 6 months, Tyler continued to run further, faster, and longer. He climbed taller mountains and hiked longer distances. He learned about hiking safely, and trail etiquette. Tyler had proven to his father that he could climb Mt. Whitney and do it safely.