Photo: Amie Harper/Sistah Vegan Project

Six-Year-Old Summits Highest Peak in the Contiguous US

United States News
by Tim Wenger Aug 31, 2018

A six-year-old girl from California has put an entire nation of day hikers to shame. Eva Luna Harper-Zahn summited the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States in July, making her way to the top of Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet. Eva pushed through bouts of altitude sickness on the 22-mile journey to join a small group of young children to reach one of North America’s tallest peaks.

Accompanied by her father, Oliver, and nine-year-old brother, Sun, Eva Luna encountered one major obstacle on the hike. Following the first leg up to Consultation Lake at just under 12,000 feet, a bit of altitude sickness kicked in. “She felt sick and nauseous,” Amie Harper, Eva Luna’s mother who stayed behind with the family’s two youngest children, said to PEOPLE. Eva Luna took a nap on her father’s lap for an hour and afterward, felt strong enough to tackle the summit. “Oliver almost decided they should turn back if she didn’t start feeling better.”

At six years old, Eva Luna is the youngest girl to reach the top of Mount Whitney and she’s potentially becoming the youngest person of color to so. “She was very cautious and focused to make sure she didn’t fall as she approached the ascent. Just before we got to the summit shelter, which was literally several yards from the summit, she grinned and pretended she was going to give up and turn around,” said Eva Luna’s father Oliver. “She laughed and then she all of a sudden broke out in tears because she was so happy to have made it.”

Eva Luna and her siblings have hiked other (smaller) mountains and spend ample time outdoors, always under the watchful eye of their parents. “Hiking and mountaineering are very significant to our family culture,” said Amie. “It means being able to explore and discover within nature and simultaneously explore and discover new things about ourselves.”

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