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8-year-old La Cañada student conquers Mt. Whitney in a day

Joshua LoCicero, 8, a third-grade student at La Cañada Elementary School, likes school, plays soccer, baseball and video games. He also enjoys eating pizza and playing with his younger sister and older brother.

“I like math and science,” said Joshua, who can now add hiking massive peaks to his list of interests.

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The boy with a friendly smile and inquisitive eyes says he enjoys the outdoors and this month reached the Mt. Whitney summit via the Mt. Whitney Trail along with his mother, Natalia LoCicero, family friend Matthew Skowron and four others.

At 14,505 feet, Mt. Whitney is the tallest mountain in California and in the contiguous United States. It is a strenuous 22-mile round-trip hike that many do in multiple days, according to Hikingguy.com, and a permit is needed to tackle the summit.

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Allison Hampton, bookstore manager at the Eastern Sierra Visitor’s Center, said there is no record kept of the age of hikers who reach the summit. But Hampton speculated only a few other children have reached the summit and hiked back down in a single day.

Fletcher Flynn, 5 of La Jolla, is believed to have been the youngest person to make the hike in 2017, in 13 hours with his father, according to the La Jolla Light. In 2016, 6-year-old Anthony Slosar of Rancho Santa Fe made the hike in 21 hours, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. In 2011, 7-year-old Tyler Armstrong of Yorba Linda hiked for 17 hours with his father, according to the Orange County Register. Other youngsters have made the round trip in two days.

Joshua has been hiking for only two years, according to his mother, and he’s been training for the last few months with 2-or-3-mile hikes. The LoCiceros reside in neighboring Altadena.

“Eaton Canyon and Switzer Falls trails are the places he has hiked,” said Natalia LoCicero.

The only other hike Joshua has made at high altitude was the Shirley Canyon trail in Lake Tahoe, according to his mother. That trail begins at an elevation of 6,235 feet and rises to 8,130 feet. Mt. Whitney Trail begins at about 8,300 feet.

The Mt. Whitney climb for Joshua and his mother began at 12:30 a.m. Aug. 18 and included many rest stops.

“We saw deer,” Joshua said. He added that he enjoyed going over a variety of water crossings, the lakes and balancing on logs, but he most liked being at the top of the mountain.

“I carried water, medicine and ChapStick,” the 8-year-old said. He also used trekking poles for stability.

Once at the top, he napped for about an hour before starting back down the mountain at about 3 p.m. The descent was completed much faster than the climb; they reached the end of the trail at about 11 p.m. Family friend Skowron stayed with Joshua and his mother on their return downhill and encouraged the young boy to finish the hike.

Skowron said Joshua’s feat was “pretty remarkable for someone as young as him.”

On Facebook, Natalia LoCicero posted words of praise for her child: “I have to say I am so proud of my little guy for wanting to conquer Mt. Whitney and succeeding to do so,” she wrote. “He brought me to tears, ‘happy’ tears.”

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