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After Scaling 7 Highest Summits, Teen Sets Sights On College

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KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) _ After becoming what is believed to be the youngest climber to scale the highest mountains on all seven continents, an 18-year-old California woman is set to tackle another challenge _ starting college in the fall.

Samantha Larson flew from Mount Everest to Katmandu, Nepal, on Wednesday on her way home to of Long Beach, Calif. Along with her was her father, David Larson, a 51-year-old anesthesiologist who accompanied his daughter on her trek up Mount Everest.

``I was really happy to be there and I was happy to be going down too,'' Larson said about her thoughts when she reached the 29,035-foot summit of Everest on May 17.

She became the youngest foreign woman to scale Everest, according to the Nepalese Mountaineering Department. A 15-year-old Sherpa girl from Nepal was the youngest ever to climb the peak.

Larson said Everest was ``much harder, longer and higher'' than the other peaks she has tackled in the past.

``There were a lot of difficult moments. It was a long trip, it was hard in general,'' she said. ``It was one big challenge. I never gave up hope completely. Deep down I thought I would make it.''

She said she was 12 when she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. Since then she has scaled the highest peaks on all seven continents, also called the ``Seven Summits.''

``It kind of happened. It was a gradual thing,'' she said of her mountaineering exploits.

Larson is set to start classes at Stanford University in the fall. She graduated from high school in 2006, but put off attending college for a year so she could concentrate on climbing.

According to 7summits.com, a Web site that tracks those who have accomplished the feat, completing the climb in Nepal makes Larson the youngest person to have completed the ``seven summits'' challenge, breaking a 2006 record set by then-20-year-old British climber Rhys Miles Jones.

Since New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first conquered Everest on May 29, 1953, about 2,000 climbers have scaled the mountain.
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