To attention of all the parents.

To attention of all the parents.

Page Type Page Type: Article
Activities Activities: Mountaineering

Does the worldwide hotel chain sponsor children violence?

Children are not to be brought to the high mountains, especially to an altitude which can seriously affect the growing body in not predictable way.

To attention of all the parents.

Climbing mountains is beautiful and exciting sport but potential risks are very high there. People who climb mountains must be fully conscious that on their decision depend their health and life as well as the lives of others. Reasoning from this it is clear that young children should not be brought to the extreme mountain conditions which require power and responsibility of an adult. Sometimes people who have no idea of how dangerous mountain climbing can be, make the mistakes which cost too high price...

There is an example below, which could teach all of us to be more attentive
to our children.

Ian Mac Keever Here are the shameful facts about Irish record maker Ian Mc Keever who misused and nearly killed the 11 years old child for realization doubtful project on Elbrus sponsored by the worldwide hotel chain.

During July, 2008 Ian Mc Keever booked the Elbrus ascent with AlexClimb Mountain Guide for himself, 11 years old boy (the name of child is not to be used here), Gordon Ward and Adam King, but against all the recommendations omitted the necessary acclimatization part of the program presuming than the child has an "exceptional altitude resistance"...
AlexClimb climbing agency does not work with children. Exception was made to Ian Mc Keever (who wasn't direct relative to the child) only because he had the special letter from the mother of the young boy which empowered him to take all the decisions and responsibility.

To that moment Ian had his own experience with Elbrus, quite a rough one, as Elbrus is the only mountain which was not climbed from the first attempt during his 7-Summits record. His new idea was to make another speed record with a child. Ian Mc Keever was informed that climbing in high altitude conditions without proper acclimatization
can have the fatal consequences for the health of young boy but Ian declined this reasonable recommendation and made the decision to attempt Elbrus in 4 days.

On the mountain from the first day it was clear that the boy was not ready for the climb. While the short acclimatization walk everybody observed that the child got mountain sickness because of the sharp altitude gain. His heart rate increase up to 180 even when he was quite and it was so bad that Russian Guide leading the group made Ian to stop any activity for this day. Ian Mc Keever insisted that this was normal and presumed to make a short phone conversation with boy's mother, after which he had informed the team that the mother approved his decision to carry on "until boy can walk". (Afterwards, in communication with the mother it was found that Ian Mc Keever never spoke with her about this matter, and
all that she knows is Sean had "minor nose bleeding".) After the phone conversation Ian passed mothers words to the team that all is well and Sean always has high heart rate. After that it was nothing to do but continue the program.

The following night the boy did not sleep, lost his appetite and shown more serious symptoms of AMS. It was told to Ian Mc Keever that the climb was not possible in such conditions. In spite of all the logic and sense, Ian Mc Keever decided to attempt the mountain after one day rest. This decision was quite a stupid one as the AMS can not be cured without going down from the mountain.

On the next day the team got a snow cat lift to the point 4700 m. It was a perfect night for the climb, the ideal one, with many people going up and with the best weather and snow conditions. But Ian's idea to bring up a sick child and forcing him to walk up was not a good idea at all.

After very slow 200 meters the boy said (he hardly could speak) that he can not walk any more (his pulse was close to 200 again). Only after that, Ian agreed to his Guide that the climb should be terminated as the continuation can cause the death of the child.

After the descent Ian Mc Keever made the nearly recovered young boy to
tell lie to the journalists as to conceal the fact of his getting sick, but the reason of Elbrus ascent failure was told the bad weather.

As a result, the child's physical health was seriously affected as he was exposed to huge altitude stress without obligatory preparation. Young boy also was injured psychologically as he was made to lie to other people.

The reason for all this was nothing more than Ian Mc Keever's desire of
new world record and getting further sponsorship.

Most of the people go to the mountains to look for the tranquility and calmness, some go there for the bright and clear impressions which beautify their lives.

But some scoundrels go to the mountains to realize their miserable ambitions and do not hesitate to misuse and harm other people. Some cases are so ugly that they deserve to be blamed and punished publicly.

Your comments are welcome!

SP Member Kamil posted two links on this subject:


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-20 of 30

kamil - Mar 27, 2009 5:46 am - Voted 10/10

sad story

I found some more articles that Alex has already given links to. Anyway, it's said that 'bad weather' was the reason of turning back from Elbrus.

To me it feels like that's another kid deprived of childhood, like other kids who do professional sport, music etc. to fulfil the ambitions of their parents/guardians... And kids can be easily brainwashed into thinking what they do is good for them. It's not always black or white but there's a fine line that shouldn't be crossed.

I believe Alex has first hand info, so that sounds like the story of one big bastard or some bastards using the kid for their purpose. Sad story really.



alexclimb - Mar 27, 2009 6:26 am - Hasn't voted

Re: sad story

Thank you for your comment, Kamil!

Gangolf Haub

Gangolf Haub - Mar 29, 2009 5:12 am - Hasn't voted

Changed to Article

Alex, I changed the object type from trip report to article and put it on the front page. I think this format is more appropriate for the contents.


alexclimb - Mar 29, 2009 12:01 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Changed to Article

Thanks a lot, Gangolf! Your change is absolutely correct and I am really glad you found this information useful as much as to be placed on the Summit Post Front Page. Thank you for understanding the gravity of the subject.


timfoltz - Mar 29, 2009 4:19 pm - Voted 6/10

Does the worldwide hotel chain sponsor child violence?

This is quite the alarmist title. I think it is safe to say they do not sponsor child violence. This seems to be the result of one persons ambitions completely clouding his ability to make safe decisions in the mountains for himself and others. While his actions are grossly inappropriate and alarming, this is by no means evidence that children should not be in the mountains at altitude as your title seems to suggest. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that altitude adversely affects the development of children. In fact i have read reports stating that young bodies if they are able to pace themselves appropriately which many times in impatience and youth is overlooked; should be able to handle altitude better than older, although more experienced people. My sister and I can attest first hand that altitude does not affect cognitive development in children. I climbed to 15,000 feet when i was 8, and my sister made it to 17,000 feet on Kilimanjaro when she was only 9. I have since been up to 23,000 feet before the age of 18 all without experiencing negative reactions. There are also numerous documented reports of young adults under the age of 20 climbing high, without repercussions. Of course this is all dependent on maintaining a proper acclimatization schedule which this kid did not. Your title saying that children should not be brought into high altitude environs is akin to those that said climbing Everest without oxygen will result in brain damage. It is certainly a sad story, however its is very alarming to see how this story was apparently twisted to try and provide proof that young people should not climb high. If anything climbing provides a needed break and outlet for young people's energy and ambition. In short, I recommend changing the title and subtitles.


alexclimb - Mar 30, 2009 2:29 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Does the worldwide hotel chain sponsor child violence?

Of course there can be different points of view. Thanks for your comment anyway. It is answered partly in the next comment.


RMdaytripsgrl - Mar 29, 2009 11:10 pm - Voted 9/10

Not the point

As a mother of small children who climbs, I completely understand this article and completely agree with the level of "alarm" in this post.

Timfoltz, It is not that children should be prohibited or discouraged from climbing, the point of alexclimb's story is that it is the responsibility of the adult to prepare the child and adequately monitor the child at altitude. The point is, taking a child into the mountains is as big of a responsibility as one can assume. An adult climbing partner understands the risks, has perspective on their own health, hopefully knows their limits. A child - especially as young as 11 - most certainly does not. Would you let an 11 year old take the car out for a drive, since he knew how to turn the wheel and could reach the pedals? I think not. It's the same situation.

It does not take Mt. Elbrus to raise this dilemma. I have seen many prepared AND unprepared adult-led children on Colorado's 14ers. Some that I have worried about very much, and felt great anger at the adult who is supposed to be leading said kids. I have grand plans to take my boys climbing, when they are ready. Climbs with them, however, will not be for me. They will be for them - with their experience, goals, fun, and most importantly well-being as priority #1.

The point is: know that when you take a child to altitude, you are 100% responsible...because they are not. They are children.


alexclimb - Mar 30, 2009 2:35 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Not the point

Thank you for your comment, as a good mother you got the point and aswered perfectly the comment of Timfoltz !

Mark Straub

Mark Straub - Apr 2, 2009 8:10 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Not the point

Ah, but where to draw the line between "naive and thoughtless child", as they seem to be portrayed, and "conscious equal"? I, by most anybody's definition, would be considered a "child". However, does this make me any of a worse climber than another with my experience level?

This is an alarmist title which does not accurately reflect the subject matter. This is overgeneralization and it should be treated as such.


Woodie Hopper

Woodie Hopper - Mar 30, 2009 11:07 am - Voted 10/10

Great Article.

Children are also harmed by their parents not just with regard to climbing when parents are too keen on living vicariously through them, although in this case I agree there is an element of exploitation which I find disgusting. Children should be supported and sometimes nudged, but not pushed or pulled by their parents.

Also, regarding climbing Everest without oxygen there is very strong scientific evidence that unless you live at very high altitude and work regularly at even higher altitudes you can expect to lose neurons climbing Everest with or without supplemental oxygen. Tim, I would like to direct your attention to the recent Spanish study that was done on Everest summitteers about two years ago, I believe. The results were widely published, and while the study's sample number was small, the results are quite compelling.

Great article, Alex.


Talisman47 - Mar 30, 2009 11:39 am - Hasn't voted

Seven Summits?

How can McKeever claim to have climbed the mountain when he took a snow cat part way up it? To me that means the poser climbed nothing other than climbibg into a snow cat!!


timfoltz - Mar 30, 2009 12:54 pm - Voted 6/10

I agree

I agree that the actions of the person placed in charge of the 11 year old made eggregious errors in judgement and I like others am disgusted by his actions. My issue with this whole argument is again the titles and subtitles placed on the article. I do not see how you are able to pull from this story that the worldwide hotel chain sponsors child violence, and that children should not be brought up into the mountains at high altitude. I feel these are simply alarmist titles attempting to bring attention to the story which while attention is needed for this unbelievable act of irresponsibility, there is no logical tie in to the before mentioned titles.
woodie, if you have a link to the article you mentioned i would love to read about it. I seem to recall a study of that nature, but thought that upon conclusion the test sample numbers were too small and not diversified enough to provide concrete evidence one way or another.
RMdaytripsgrl, i know the article is not meant to dicourage children from climbing, however i would be hard pressed to find a different meaning for that of the titles of the article. "Children are not to be brought to the high mountains, especially to an altitude which can seriously affect the growing body in not predictable way." this seems to speak for itself and is what i take issue with. Also there are many children who at the age of 11 are able to drive a car. It is all dependent upon proper instruction and guidance which was obviously lacking in this case. The example is not the same, but similarities can be drawn. Again, in short it is my feeling that the titles of this article should be changed, it reminds me of the alarmist titles "news" sites like aol like to post.

Woodie Hopper

Woodie Hopper - Mar 30, 2009 2:08 pm - Voted 10/10

Re: I agree


Below is a summary of the article that was presented on Alpinist online. The study was published in Scientific American. From my experience at work, young healthy people do not get "new atrophy" as seen on MRI without adverse exposure to something: toxins, anoxia, etc.




born2hikeandclimb - Mar 30, 2009 2:24 pm - Hasn't voted


Very nice and complete article.
I'm a young teen (14) that loves mountaineering and i find this article really interesting and i have myself reached the summit of mt. kilimanjaro (above 19000 ft.). At my age would it possible to go higher (probably over 6000m?). What would be a suitable limit having a bit of mountaineering experience?
Thank you,


timfoltz - Mar 30, 2009 3:44 pm - Voted 6/10

Re: interesting

What you climb and how high you go is completely up to you, your experience/ability and those included in your group. That said,as may be evident from my above posts, i feel it is not your age that defines what you do, but your experience. For example after climbing kili as you have, i climbed orizaba, izta and la malinche, all lower than kili, but provided valuable experience. This was in addition to climbing several 14ers, numerous backpacking trips and such before climbing aconcogua when i was 17. Therefore i would not place an altitude limit on yourself, but an experience limit. Make goals that go in logical steps. For instance, regardless of your age it does not make sense to go from kili to everest. but it would make sense to do climbs such as ranier, winter 14ers, orizaba, various volcanos in S. America gradually increasing elevation and/or difficulty.
That is my strategy, plan and 2cents.
Good luck.


RMdaytripsgrl - Mar 30, 2009 5:17 pm - Voted 9/10

I see your side...

Timfoltz, I see your point. The titles are a bit alarmist, and it is obvious that alexclimb is very angry with Ian McKeever, which may have influenced his choice of titles. But I think it's warranted. There is nothing more disgusting on this Earth than any form of exploitation of children. And, the harsh titles draw hits/reads...this is a message than can't hurt to be spread no matter what the titles are.


Corax - Apr 6, 2009 11:26 am - Voted 10/10


During July, 2008 Ian Mc Keever booked the Elbrus ascent with AlexClimb Mountain Guide for himself, 11 years old boy (the name of child is not to be used here), Gordon Ward and Adam King, but against all the recommendations omitted the necessary acclimatization part of the program presuming than the child has an "exceptional altitude resistance"...

Ian declined this reasonable recommendation and made the decision to attempt Elbrus in 4 days.

My full respect to you, your climbing and guiding abilities Alex, but when a potential client approach you with ideas as stupid, unrealistic and dangerous as Ian did you have to tell that person no.
Ian seems to be a complete idiot not having a clue what he's doing and how dangerous his plan was. If the kid had died, which there was a pretty good potential for, you don't want to be a part of it.
Anyone (except the kid of course) taking part in a project like that one would be to blame.

Alarmist title?
A bit perhaps, but first of all it's not important in the big picture and second; I don't think the comment is off the mark. Anyone sponsoring projects lead by people like Ian is a part of it. I wouldn't even use a term as weak as "children violence". It's about leading a kid towards a quite certain death.

Further, I think it's perfectly fine to bring kids to the mountains. Of course it has to be done with a lot of common sense and the parents have to be extremely knowledgeable about the dangers the mountains present. To use kids for headlines, world records, sponsor deals etc. is revolting and detestable.


alexclimb - Apr 7, 2009 3:58 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Revolting

Thank you Corax for your comment. You got exactly the idea I tried to say. Revolting and detestable.

My only objection would be: you wrote "when a potential client approach you with ideas as stupid, unrealistic and dangerous as Ian did you have to tell that person no."

What happens if I say no? I just keep myself away from some trouble which can happen to defenseless and unaware people. The guy who got such a dangerous ideas can find other not scrupulous people to realize his project or even try to do it on his own... Do you really think I should say no? Or say yes and try to keep the people away from the trouble?



Corax - Apr 7, 2009 6:54 am - Voted 10/10

Re: Revolting

It's a very tough decision to make and I see your point to 100%. As you say; if you say no, a person like Ian will look for others. You said yes and you could monitor the development and to a certain degree help the kid to avoid serious trouble. It's a good thing you did and it may have been the best decision in a dangerous and complicated mess with many potential outcomes.

My thoughts had been along the same lines as yours for sure, but based on the facts in the article I had said no in the end. I think.
Just imagine Ian had pushed a little bit harder. Or the kid had been able to mask the symptoms a little bit more. Or the AMS had been of the really rapid type a catastrophe had been certain.

Ok, let's pretend the expedition ended with the death of the kid. I had said no and Ian used another company or went of with only his own crew. My thoughts had been: Is this death on my hands because I didn't help them out? Had I been able to stop this madness? etc.
If I had accepted to guide and the kid had died, my thoughts would be something like: How could I be so stupid? I knew it was all wrong from the start and saw the warning signs early. I went along and helped out leading an innocent kid towards a disaster. Without my help, they hadn't made it this far, so some of the blame is on me etc.
The latter had been much worse. Why?
Because I then had played an active role in the mess and the nagging thoughts about when I should have turned the party around had been in my head until the day I died.

Then again, the kid survived. It all ended well, so perhaps that answers my thoughts about what's the right decision to make.

The bottom line is probably:
When complete idiots are involved in something it's very hard to make the right decision.

I just feel I couldn't go along with a plan that rabid. To speed ascend Elbrus, without prior acclimatization with an 11 year old kid. Absolute madness.

Anyway Alex, I think it was great you wrote this piece so people get to know about this episode of dark side of "modern mountaineering", where the big money, sponsor deals and career adventurers take over more and more. The scene is becoming sicker by the day and there's no end in sight.


MoT - Apr 15, 2009 4:02 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Revolting

I think you probably meant child 'abuse' rather than violence. Probably lost in translation. I think most people here understand what you meant.

Viewing: 1-20 of 30



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