5-year-old Hanoian conquers highest mountains in Vietnam
The 5-year-old, or Ken as he is called, has conquered the five highest mountains in Vietnam, including Lao Than (2,860m), Nhiu Co San (2,965m), Fansipan (3,147m), Ta Lien Son (2,996) and Lung Cung (2,913m).
As he was not old enough to climb Fansipan, he took a cable car and then climbed 600 steps to reach the “Roof of Indochina”.
“At first, my husband and I decided not to let Ken try the mountain climbing experience. However, Ken unexpectedly liked mountaineering very much and he asked us to bring him with us when we climb mountains,” said Ha Pham, Ken’s mother.
“He practices walking 4-5 kilometers daily, from home to my office and school, to take physical exercise and play sports with his sisters,” she said.
Ha’s husband works in the tourism industry, and he loves to take his kids traveling everywhere.
Ken began traveling with the family when he was several months old. However, at that time, they mostly went to resorts and relaxed. These were safe destinations and suitable for children, and it was easier for Ha to take care of them.
Ha’s husband loves experience tourism, including mountaineering. In October 2020, they decided to hunt for clouds at Lao Than mountain.
“I saw images of the sea of clouds which were so beautiful, so I decided to take the trip,” she recalled.
As she felt insecure leaving Ken at home, they brought Ken with them.
The porter was surprised when Ha told him that they wanted to climb up the 2,860 meter mountain with their 45-month-old boy. He advised the couple to reconsider their decision, warning them this would be a long distance and the conditions were not favorable for children.
“We then talked to each other to see Ken’s reactions. We also considered his health, his feelings and habits. And finally, we decided to bring him, considering the trip as an experience for both us and Ken,” Ha said.
On departure day, Ken was very excited. A porter was hired specifically for Ken. The boy surprised people as he followed the porter closely, and looked at the mountain, forest and plants with excitement.
Ken observed the porter and learned how to go on slopes, and how to use a stick and cling to trees and cliffs. Only when he felt asleep was he carried by the porter on this back.
“He could eat, sleep and serve himself very well. He also talked to other climbers,” Ha said.
Returning from the first climb, Ken asked his mother about the next trip.
Because of Covid-19, they organized the next trip on Nhiu Co San in late March, and Ta Lien Son in December 2021.
The trip to climb Lung Cung Mount in April 2022 was the hardest trip for Ken’s family.
Just days before departure time, it rained heavily in the Lung Cung area.
He was warned by the porter that the the pathway to the place from which they began climbing was very muddy and motorbikes could not operate. As a result, they had to push the motorbikes, and Ken had to wade through the muddy path.
However, this did not cause difficulties for Ken, who had experience and had learned necessary skills from the fou climbs. They needed three hours to overcome the pathway.
However, that was not all they had to face. The temperature then decreased quickly. At 4 pm, they were very cold. At night, the temperature dropped to 1oC. They had not brought enough clothes to keep warm. Luckily, they had prepared enough warm clothes for Ken.
“The trip to Nhiu Co San had many difficult and memorable moments, but we could not stay there. All the phones shut down because it was too cold,” Ha recalled.
Fortunately, the weather got better the next morning and they continued climbing. At the mountain top, they could see the wonderful “sea of clouds” and forests.
Ha said parents should only bring children if they can prepare the children very well and if they truly love mountaineering.