This summer my family will be joining me for my trip to Whitney, including my 10 year-old daughter Brianne. After hearing so much about my Whitney adventure last year, she insists that she's going to hike the MMWT with Dad (and maybe Mom) this coming July. I'm somewhat uncertain about the wisdom of her attempting this due to her age, although I'm aware that a number of kids have actually summitted in the past. She's hiked a number of reasonably strenuous trails with me in the past 3 years locally, as well as in the Cascades, Rockies and Black Hills, so she's a trooper - but all have been less than 12 miles RT and all under 11K' elevation. She's been above 14K' several times in Colorado for extended periods without showing any ill effects, but all those were the easy way, without a great deal of hiking to reach that elevation (the beauty of Colorado, where through-roads at 12K' are no big deal, and access roads above 13K' are common).
For several years she's watched Dad take off to places out west to hike and backpack the bigger stuff that was far beyond her, and now she feels like she's ready to do a "really big one" with me. I certainly don't want to discourage her, but I damn sure don't want to endanger her by putting her in a situation that's over her head. In all the hiking I've done over 10K' over the years, I've rarely seen kids as young as 10 on a trail that high (Scout troops excepted), so I really don't know if Whitney is over her head. Maybe I'm just being overly cautious, but the "death march" of the MMWT kicked my butt last year. We're looking at a one or two-nighter this time around.
So, any thoughts or direction on high-elevation, long-distance preparedness for kids? Does it differ that much from adults? I should mention that we'll spend at least a week hiking at 10-11K' and sleeping at 8K' in the Mammoth area before we attempt Whitney (good call Steve).