Recently, two teen record-holding climbers (one was 12 and the other 13) were killed in a small avalanche. This led to heated debate in (social) media if it is legal to allow children to practice high altitude mountain climbing since their ability to understand the actual risk is arguable.

Doing a quick search I found that it is not that uncommon for children to aim for the highest peaks, as this boy or this girl.

This article dives into legal details, but there seems to be two main legal opposite forces and no clear answer:

Courts have repeatedly recognized parents' Fourteenth Amendment rights to make decisions regarding their children's care without undue interference from the state.

Parents have the right to consent or object to their children's medical treatments. Parents have a right to decide whether their kids attend public or private school. Parents have a right to discipline their children


Parents' right to make child rearing decisions are limited by a states' child abuse and child endangerment laws. While the laws may vary, most states criminalize child endangerment.

Question: Is there an "high altitude mountain climbing age" within the United States? Or at least, was there any political intention to clearly define a legal frame for this particular case?

I mean a minimum age a child is allowed to practice high altitude mountain climbing. This would be similar to smoking age, legal drinking age or age of consent.

  • I have included a link to an article listing the extreme sports. I thought this is quite a common concept ("certain activities perceived as involving a high degree of risk"). I have seen it mentioned as a check box on some insurance policies and thought it is quite a common term.
    – Alexei
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 18:09
  • @notstoreboughtdirt - ok, then let's consider the list used by the insurers. However, this is a secondary aspect of my question. My goal is to find out if there was/is any political intention to clearly regulate extreme sports practicing for children. The increased danger is obvious, not just perceived, otherwise insurers would not deal with them explicitly and increase the cost when they are practiced.
    – Alexei
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 18:31
  • 2
    That list includes competitive martial arts, and I've seen very young children who do that. By very young, I mean less than ten. Competitive wrestling is a high school sport in the US. So thirteen or fourteen. Scuba diving has programs for kids as young as eight. Perhaps this question is Too Broad?
    – Brythan
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 18:41
  • @Brythan - I have edited the question to clearly refer to the sports that statistically are much more dangerous
    – Alexei
    Commented May 1, 2017 at 18:54
  • 3
    I voted to re-open. It was closed for being off-topic ("not about governments, policies, or political processes"), but this is overtly a question about a US policy. Commented May 1, 2017 at 21:50

1 Answer 1


In General: No

There is no federal law and, as far as I can tell, no state law which sets an across-the-board minimum age on mountaineering or climbing. I based this on searching through the statutes of several states with mountains, as well as the web pages for some parks.

Many states' park services had wording like this (taken from the Colorado Springs webpage):

Although there are not age limitations for rock climbing, all climbers including children must register.

Climbing is an inherently dangerous activity. Technical Climbing is at your own risk. The City of Colorado Springs does not install, inspect, nor maintain the fixed protection devices.Your safety is your own responsibility.

Specific Example

However, in some specific cases, governments have set age limits. Here is one such example:

  • Mount Rainer: 18. Mount Rainer is a national park located in Washington state. The National Parks Service requires anyone attempting to climb Mount Rainer to be at least 18 (source).

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