Toddler may be youngest climber to reach top of 10,000-foot mountain

A toddler might have become the youngest person to reach the summit of Piz Badile, a 10,000-foot mountain. His reward? Haribo candy.

Jackson Houlding, the 3-year-old who completed the impressive feat, trekked up the mountain, on the border of Switzerland and Italy, with his family last week. His sister Freya, 7, is reportedly now the youngest person to climb the mountain unaided.

“It was really good,” Jackson told SWNS wire service. “I enjoyed the bit I climbed on my own and the Haribo sweets.”

The brother and sister duo are following in their parents’ footsteps of being avid mountain climbers. Leo, 40, has climbed some of the most treacherous peaks on the planet, and his wife Jessica, 41, shares a similar love for climbing.

On this hike, Jessica carried Jackson on her back, while Leo carried the supplies and equipment. But the two youngsters are no strangers to mountain peaks.

“We’ve done quite a bit of stuff in the UK and Europe in previous years,” Leo said, “but every summer the kids are bigger and more capable than the past year.”

For the parents, these hikes are no sweat, but for the kids, each climb is a huge accomplishment. Leo said it was “exceptional” that they completed this particular climb with their two young children, especially because Freya didn’t have any help.

“I found it really fun and really scary,” Freya said. “I’m very proud.”

The climb up Piz Badile took the family four days, with one night spent in an alpine hut and the others spent in bivouacs, which are small, metal sheds. From their valley starting point, it took five hours to reach the Swiss hut, then they camped out on a shoulder of the mountain before a big day of the more difficult climbing. They reached the summit on the third day, then descended the next on the Italian side of the mountain.

The Houlding family completed the expedition on the 153rd anniversary of when the mountain was first summited on July 27, 1867. But the trip was more than just a celebration of accomplishments for Jackson and Freya on a historic day — Leo also celebrated his birthday on the mountain’s peak.

“Having your own children there, I was conscious that we were on a big adventure together but I never felt that we were in an unacceptable position and I never thought we were out of our depth,” Leo said.

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