Piz Badile mountain, located on the border of Switzerland and Italy, has long attracted climbing enthusiasts — some of whom never returned. This week, however, a mountain-climbing toddler and his older sister have become among the youngest people to ever reach the mountain’s 11,000-foot-tall peak.
Three-year-old Jackson Houlding and his 7-year-old sister Freya ascended the formidable peak last week with their parents Leo, 40, and Jessica, 41. Both professional climber Leo and his wife have been on numerous climbs over the years. However, they don’t typically bring the little ones along — until now.
“We’ve done quite a bit of stuff in the UK and Europe in previous years, but every summer the kids are bigger and more capable than the past year,” Leo said, according to the Daily Mail.
The pro climber called Piz Badile “a proper rock climb, not a walk up a mountain.” It’s also not without its hazards: in 2004, British climbers Jules Cartwright and Julie Colver fell to their deaths while descending the mountain.
Still, Leo chose the climb for his family based on the greater control he said it offers travelers over hazards like rockfall and bad weather.
“The benefits of being on a ridge is that the threat of rockfall is much lower, if you’re on the face it’s worse,” he said. “These days mountain weather forecasts are so accurate you can mitigate that risk too.”
During the hike, toddler Jackson rode on his mother’s back, making him the youngest person ever to reach the peak. Older sister Freya, however, climbed all on her own, making her the youngest person to accomplish the same feat unaided.
“I found it really fun and really scary,” Freya said. “I’m very proud.”
Jackson also said he had a good time, for slightly different reasons.
“It was really good,” the toddler said. “I enjoyed the bit I climbed on my own and the Haribo sweets.”
With their most recent adventure just a week behind them, the Houlding family shows no signs of slowing down.
“Now we’re on our way to a multi-day trek across the highest mountain of Montenegro, but it won’t be as demanding as the Piz Badile,” Jessica said.
And with a couple climbing records already under their belts, Jackson and Freya aren’t in danger of developing Nature Deficit Disorder any time soon.