Record Breaking News:
My daughter, Eva Luna Harper-Zahn (age 7) is the youngest girl in history to make it to the summit of 14,180′ tall Mount Shasta, together with her brother Sun (age 10). Shasta is not an easy feat for even the fittest of adults. Our daughter and son are amazing!
Last year Eva Luna became the youngest girl to summit Mt. Whitney – the highest mountain in the contiguous US – at the age of 6. She wanted to set out for another goal for 2019 that would be more challenging, so…
This year (2019), her goal was to break the age record for summiting Mt. Shasta, previously held by a 9-year old boy. Shasta is more challenging than Mt. Whitney because its steeper slopes are covered in ice and snow. With her older brother Sun (10 years of age) and papa, Dr. Oliver Zahn, this past 4th of July weekend (2019) at the age of 7, she achieved her dream of reaching the summit.
A sport dominated by mostly men, Eva Luna is determined to carve out space for girls and kids of color within extreme outdoor sports like mountaineering (she is a rock climber as well).
It took them 3 attempts over the last 6 weeks to get to the summit of Mt. Shasta. I (her mama) went with Luna, Sun and my husband as the lead (and one who planned everything for months) the first time in June 2019. We made it to Horse Camp, pitched a tent, but then realized the next morning that the conditions and timing were not good enough to continue to Helen Lake and then summit (photo of me with her is below) so we didn’t do it.
The second attempt was with my husband (her papa) and her big brother. They made it to Helen Lake camp, started the ascent, but turned back due to 50 mph winds.
But on July 4, number three was the sweet number to achieve the goal.
After 7 hours of backpacking up, on July 3, they got to base camp of Lake Helen before 8pm, set up, ate dinner, went to sleep, and woke up at 2am, July 4, to start the ascent with headlamps, crampons, helmets and ice axes for emergency self arrest.
I think I need to emphasize that they first had to hike up the mountain to base camp for 7 hours. You can’t drive there! That means you hike up your camping gear, food, etc for 7 hours in very thin air. 7 hours just to make it to base camp and STILL, once you get there, set up, and rest, you have about 6-9 hours of technical steep ascent on ice ahead of you to the summit. This is not hiking but mountaineering – you need crampons for proper traction, a helmet for rock fall, and know how to use an ice axe to self arrest.
And she persisted…
Becoming tired, about 4 hours into their ascent to the summit, Eva Luna needed a break. After taking an hour long nap on her papa’s lap, Eva Luna was re-energized to make it to the summit and finally made it, late in the morning with her brother and father.
Congrats Eva Luna, Sun, and my husband Oliver for making it to the top (photos of the journey below). Oliver planned everything for months. An expert mountaineer, he knew exactly what to do and how to train the children. He is the epitome of super duper Dad who inspires the children to go for their dreams and passion…but with caution and non-arrogance. The key is to not think one can conquer anything (which is the common rhetoric in extreme outdoor sports) , but to learn more about yourself, the journey, and humility within the power and beauty of nature.
Missed Eva Luna’s record breaker for 2018 when she was 6 and summited Mt. Whitney Here is the video recap:
Eva Luna and Sun want to inspire others with their story! If news outlets are interested, let us know.