5-year-old 'super hiking twins' set record for summiting Mt. Shasta

Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Herald

Five-year-old twins Arabella and Matthew Adams started kindergarten three weeks ago. They enjoy swimming, watching TV, playing on their iPads and spending time at the park.

What sets them apart from other kids their age? On Sept. 6, the twins set a record for being the youngest children to summit Mt. Shasta. And they have big aspirations: the two “super hikers” are saving pennies in their piggy banks to one day climb Mt. Everest.

Their parents, engineer Shaun and second grade teacher Nancy, say Matthew and Arabella took their first hike in backpacks when they were a month old, and they’ll continue hiking with them “as long as they continue to enjoy it.”

The family, who lives in Los Angeles, gets outdoors to hike every weekend, Shaun said. When the twins were 2 1/2, they got rid of the backpacks and started hiking on their own two feet.

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“The trails were short and flat at first,” said Shaun, but they progressed to hiking steeper trails as they got older.

Last year, at age 4, Arabella and Matthew set a record summiting Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, at 14,505 feet. They also climbed 14,246 foot White Mountain Peak, Shaun said.

This year, they summited 14,026 foot Mt. Langley and on Sept. 5, they scaled all 14,179 feet of Mt. Shasta. 

Although there is no official record for the youngest person to climb Mt. Shasta, Redding area resident Mason Gurney is documented to have climbed the mountain in 2019 at age 7. 

Matthew and Arabella Adams are shown celebrating their accomplishment at the peak of Mt. Shasta on Sept. 6, 2020. They are thought to be the youngest to ever summit the mountain.

Arabella and Matthew are now thought to be the record holders. They climbed slowly but surely for 22 hours over two days to reach Mt. Shasta’s summit and return to the trailhead, said Shaun.

They set out from Clear Creek at 8 a.m. on Sept. 5 and at 3 p.m. stopped to rest and camp at 11,000 feet. 

Shaun said it was windy, but the wind was nice because it blew some of the smoke out and provided some blue skies.

At 5:30 a.m. the following morning, they set out for the summit. 

Normally, when the twins get to the top of a mountain, Shaun said they enjoy looking around to see the sights. Unfortunately, there was a lot of smoke in the air when they got to the top of Mt. Shasta, which impeded their view, but they hung out for awhile and chit chatted about what they saw. 

They also had a snack, giggled and relaxed, said Shaun.

The family has a special tradition. When they make it to the top of a mountain, the “Mountain Fairy” leaves surprises in their backpacks. For a strenuous hike like summiting Mt. Shasta, the fairy left two trinkets for each kid, Shaun explained.

“So they want to get the top and right away, they want to rip open their backpack to see what the Mountain Fairy left. Then they usually play with the toy the whole way down.”

The twins didn’t use all their energy to get to summit – they were full of vigor the whole way down. By 8:30 p.m., the family was safely back at their car.

Matthew and Arabella Adams, age 5, are shown on a hike - an activity they have enjoyed all their lives.

“A lot of people say we hit the jackpot,” said Shaun, “because they both enjoy hiking.” Arabella and Matthew handled the climb “like champs ... We are grateful that they enjoy the outdoors as much as we do.”

The twins are directly involved in planning their hiking adventures, Shaun added. They have maps on the wall of their bedroom of nearby mountain ranges, and they help decide where they want to go next.

Before each hike, Shaun said they talk about the mountain they’re going to climb. The kids draw their own maps, filling in the path, trees and rocks, and they talk about what the experience will be like.

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When they found out Mt. Shasta is a volcano, the twins “got really excited,” said Shaun. “They couldn’t wait to get to the top.”

The twins are looking forward to climbing Mt. Tyndall next. It’s another “Fourteener” – a mountain that’s 14,000 feet or taller – although the smoke and forest closures may push their adventure to next year, Shaun said.

The Adams enjoy visiting the Mt. Shasta Area as often as possible, Shaun said, since it’s “much greener” than LA.

To follow the twins’ adventures, you can find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SuperHikingTwins, Instagram as “super_hiking_twins," and on YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCrYIn-lXcqBnS9pRok59Elw