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Teen Climbs Mt. Everest

Americans have a new real-life, adventure hero to talk about -- a California teen who has climbed the world's highest peaks with her father. VOA's Paul Sisco introduces us to her.

Sir Edmund Hillary made the first successful summit of Mt. Everest on 29 May 1953. Today, Samantha Larson, 18, can say she has been there, too.

Larson on May 17 became the youngest American to reach the spectacular peak. "It was a beautiful day so the views were fantastic," she describes, "and it was an incredible feeling getting to the top."

After graduating from high school, the California native took a year off from school to train and accomplish the feat.

In doing so, she also became youngest person to climb the "seven summits," the tallest peaks on each continent. Her stepmother, Janet Moore says, "When we found on Wednesday night our time (May 16), the first feeling is, 'Fantastic! she's made it!"

Standing at 8,850 meters (29,035 feet), Everest is by all accounts the top of the world.

"It's definitely physically the hardest thing I've ever done," says Larson. "It's much harder than any of the other seven summits."

Larson was twelve when she climbed Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro with her father. A year later, they climbed South America's Aconcaqua.

It was Mount Elbrus in Russia at 14. Then Alaska's Mount McKinley or Denali, and Australia's Mount Kosciuszko in 2005.

Antarctica's highest mountain is Mount Vinson-Massif. She climbed it December 2005, and finally completed the seventh summit goal on Everest just last week. "When she started climbing (Mount Kilimanjaro), I never thought that the end of that road would be Everest," says Stepmother Moore.

Apparently it is not over yet for this climbing family. Even her younger sister, Emma, is planning a trip. "I'm climbing the first of the seven summits in 2009, Kilimanjaro. I'll be 10 years old,"

Emma plans on following in her big sister's steps.