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18-year-old California woman scales Everest
19 May 2007 | Associated Press

LOS ANGELES ??" An 18-year-old woman reached the summit of Mount Everest and is believed to be the youngest person to scale the highest peaks on each of the seven continents.

"We made it to the top!" Samantha Larson, of Long Beach, gasped to her mother in New York via satellite phone from the top of Everest on Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

According to 7summits.com, a Web site that tracks those who have accomplished the feat, completing the climb in Nepal makes Larson the youngest person to have completed the "seven summits" challenge, breaking a 2006 record set by then-20-year-old British climber Rhys Miles Jones.

Larson graduated last year from Long Beach Poly High School. She put off going to Stanford for a year so she could scale some of the world's tallest peaks with her father.

The Nepalese government said Friday she was the youngest foreigner to reach the 29,035-foot summit of Everest, though some climbing Web sites say a 17-year-old boy from France did it in 1990. A 15-year-old Sherpa girl from Nepal was the youngest to climb Everest.

Larson has been climbing sky-high mountains since she was a child. She reached the summit of South America's Aconcagua when she was 13 and Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro when she was 14.

"She's just amazing," said her mother, Sarah Hanson. She said her daughter has "a kind of stamina and persistence that just seems to be part of her nature, and it has been since she was little."

Hanson said her daughter was halfway down the mountain when she heard from her Friday.

Larson and her father, 51-year-old anesthesiologist David Larson, planned to reach base camp Friday and Nepal's capital, Katmandu, on Monday, then return to Southern California on Wednesday.

Since New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first conquered Everest on May 29, 1953, about 2,000 climbers have scaled the mountain.