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Partner robdotcalm

Oct 22, 2012, 2:27 PM

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Registered: Oct 31, 2002
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Re: [oldguy53] older climbers
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Time to contribute, since I think that at 82 Iím the oldest active-climber on So far this year Iíve had a decent season in Colorado and Wyoming having climbed outdoors 52 days and am looking forward to an upcoming trip to Joshua Tree. (Iíve climbed a few days in the gym but donít keep track of that). With 6 grandkids and their 4 sets of parents local, family activities and social obligations limit my climbing time (Iím not complaining, just describing; Iím glad to have the family close by). At my age Iím grateful that Iím still walking ( as so many of my contemporaries have problems with that) and have a sense of thankfulness each time I climb that Iím still able to. If you had asked me 20 years ago, if Iíd still be climbing when I was 82, I would have said, ďProbably, not.Ē In terms of probabilities that was a good answer. A lot of luck is involved in being able to stay active as one gets old. I take my climbing seasons one at a time. I look forward to climbing next year and thatís as far ahead as I can contemplate.

Yesterday, reminded me of my luck. For a starter, my wife and I attended the third funeral in a month for one of our contemporaries. In the evening, we went to a concert and met two more of our contemporaries. One was using cane for his hip. The second recently had spinal surgery for degenerated disks. Lots of hardware installed. This fellow always has kept in good shape--six months ago, he had hiked a 14er. No injury involved in disksí deterioration.

I started climbing when I was 41 so that Iíve now been climbing for 41 years--half my life. I currently lead trad 5.8 (sometimes having to work at it a bit) and follow 5.9--from slab to wide cracks. This is a noticeable decrease from what I could do years ago. For example, this summer I followed a 5.8 that I thought was hard. In 1991, I on-sight soloed the route and thought it was easy. If youíre going to keep climbing as you get really old, say past 75 or possibly 70, youíll have to enjoy doing easier climbs. Iíve know a couple of climbers, who, when their abilities started declining, no longer enjoyed the sport and stopped. Thatís not been the case for me. I enjoy being challenged, and the easier climbs now challenge me.

My upper body strength has stayed OK, at body weight 135 I do chinups with 50 lbs in a backpack. There is a significant decline in my maximal aerobic capacity so that Iím slow on approaches and appreciative when my younger partners (well, they are all younger than me) will carry most of the gear. Alpine routes are no longer feasible because of my slowness and even some crags, e.g., Sundance at Lumpy Ridge, now seem too far to be enjoyable. Fortunately, the places that I climb the most Eldorado, Vedauwoo, and Joshua Tree have predominately short approaches with little elevation gain. And, of course, when youíre old, recovery time takes longer.

My wife doesnít climb, but we enjoy hiking and weight lifting together. Iíve lifted weights regularly for 60 years. There have been many discussions on on whether or not lifting is helpful for climbing, and Iím not entering into how it applies to younger climbers. I know that if I didnít lift, I would lack the sturdiness to climb and the muscle mass needed for strength. Also, high-repetition medium weight squats keep my knees functional including an arthritic, off-injured left knee. Hiking, even with a heavy pack, does not provide the same therapeutic benefit. I have a nice 425 sq. ft. lifting room at home (enclosed patio). All my lifting is done with free weightsóno machines.

This summer and last, my partners and I managed to put in a few first ascents at Vedauwoo. ( Sarah Palinís Drill, Day of Wrath, Panhandle, Barbed Wire. (From the description of Barbed Wire, there may not be a second ascent.) To finish leading it (onsight, ground up), I removed all my gear except for my harness, squiggled up the exit crack and then retrieved the gear with a sling when I got to the belay stance on shelf. Fun stuff for an old man. (There are some nasty comments about me on the MP page, but at my age itís satisfying to still be able to create controversy.)

Attached image is getting ready for another day's work at Vedauwoo


(This post was edited by robdotcalm on Oct 22, 2012, 2:43 PM)
Attachments: R with Valley Giant.jpg (73.6 KB)

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Post edited by robdotcalm () on Oct 22, 2012, 2:43 PM

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