This Six-Year-Old Climbed Whitney

Eva Luna Harper-Zahn kicked off her alpinism career with the Lower 48’s highest peak.
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Eva Luna Harper-Zahn

Eva Luna Harper-Zahn

Shortly after starting up Mt. Whitney at 1 a.m., Eva Luna needed a nap. She was feeling the altitude, and like most kids her age, was not accustomed to the body- and mind-jarring effects of an alpine start. But unlike most kids her age, she thought climbing a 14,505-foot mountain sounded like fun. So she took an hour-long break in her dad’s lap, then continued.

Eva Luna, a second-grader from Berkeley, California, didn’t need another nap. She made it to the summit at 7:30 a.m. with her 9-year-old brother Sun and their father, Oliver. On the peak, Eva Luna had enough energy to make a joke—she pretended she couldn’t finish the final few feet—and then cried tears of joy at the top. “I felt so excited and happy because I made it!” she says. Eva Luna appears to be the second-youngest girl to ever summit Whitney (no official record exists).

Whitney wasn’t Eva Luna’s first hike. Oliver and his wife, Breeze, have taken their four kids hiking and camping since they had to be carried. They get out regularly on trails in Northern California and while on vacation in national parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Bryce Canyon. But this 22-mile round-trip, which took 20 hours, was by far the biggest.

Who knows what Eva Luna will do when she’s 7?