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Still climbing hard after 50?
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Mar 13, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: So, of course, this is totally me. Naturally.
camhead wrote:
Jack Marshall is well into his 70s, and climbing solid 5.11 on good days.

Yeah, but being old isn't an excuse for being a jerk.
Joined Apr 13, 2008
80 points
Mar 14, 2013
Momoface wrote:
Yeah, but being old isn't an excuse for being a jerk.

nah, that's a separate thing. also you spelled gerk wrong.
Joined Dec 9, 2007
8 points
Mar 17, 2013
A few years ago I interviewed 50 athletes over age 50 and write a book about it. I interviewed Russ Clune and George Hurley as part of the project.

My main take away is that as athletes age, what motivates us changes. When we are young, performance is high on the list, while the health benefits are low on the list. When we get up there in age, performance may still be important, but is tempered by other joys that we receive from participation.

Remaining injury free is a big challenge past 50 or so.

Don McGrath
From fort collins, CO
Joined May 14, 2008
40 points
Mar 18, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: You can love your rope but you can't "LOVE&qu...
Legs Magillicutty wrote:
I hear that Lee Smith guy can still send like a muther...

Haha! I do push the "send" button on my text messages quite frequently.... You are too kind Legs.

At 54, it is all about injury for me. I should have taken better care of myself when I was younger. But even with all the nagging aches and pains I still believe it is all about the fun, companionship and outdoor time I get from climbing. Shelf, a couple of weeks ago: Great friends, cool campfire comaraderie, and I climbed a couple of .7's and maybe a .9. I thought the weekend a great success.
Lee Smith
Joined Sep 5, 2003
1,686 points
Mar 19, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: portion control
it's great to see multiple climbers in their 50's climbing as hard as they ever have. It's kind of surprising (other sports don't have this characteristic, do they?) and shows either how much is mental or perhaps shows how much further top performance can really go in climbing.

At 55 I don't notice much loss of power but I definitely need more recovery time between sessions, between goes and between injuries. But it's way easier mentally to be the underdog, which I really like. I'm just planning to do more endurance routes as I lose power. But not yet - PB last year in both sport (13b) and bouldering (v8). No more ice or hard trad anymore though - I have learned something!

I'm trying to get to start tracking the oldest send of a route -seriously - I think that would be really interesting, and motivating. Enough about Ashima and the other pre-teens! (if you agree shoot an email to
Joined Aug 31, 2009
66 points
Mar 19, 2013
Stow, I think it does show how much of the game is mental but mainly I think it shows how much standards of any given era effect what people will try to do. Let's face it - in 1985 V5 (B1) was pretty damned hard and not too many folks were doing it. Nowadays it isn't seen as too hard at all and every kid that's been climbing for a little while just expects to do it since they see everyone else doing it. Kind of a collective consciousness. Meanwhile some of us old folks are using that same mentality. We see that the kids are right - 5.13 and V8 aren't impossible at all. There's power in that knowledge.

...and of course we have great gyms, lots of routes and lots of good training advice to get us there.

Keep on cranking, old man. Let's get it while we can.
Joined Apr 24, 2008
3 points
Mar 19, 2013
What enables me to climb (in my 50s) at a higher level than I did 25 years ago is sport climbing. That is partly because sport grades are a bit inflated, but in addition gym climbing allows for a training regime that carries over to sport climbing more than it does to trad routes. PRRose
From Boulder
Joined Feb 11, 2006
2 points
Mar 26, 2013
Sport climbing is interesting and all, but what about middle aged guys cranking big walls and alpine routes? Eric Whitbeck
Joined Mar 27, 2006
321 points
Mar 26, 2013
Man, there are more than a fair share of older folks that crank. Have you been climbing in Eldo? I see all kinds of grey haired men and women climbing .11's. Sir Wanksalot
From County Jail
Joined Sep 29, 2011
14 points
Mar 26, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: On the North America Wall in 1977.
It's all about not gaining weight, staying in shape and staying injury free.
It's also about taking a realistic look at your dreams and maybe modifying them. Us old guys have to climb more with our brains than our brawn and we have to pick routes that play to that.

Eric, I'm 57 and have climbed 8 El Cap routes in the last four years (3 solo) including a NIAD where I led the whole thing. This June I hope to climb two more routes and maybe the NAID in less than 10 hours.
Mark Hudon
From Lives on the road
Joined Jul 27, 2009
333 points
Mar 28, 2013
Nice job Mark. My best go was Nose in 26 hours with a great partner. I have lost some weight since then, climb a bit harder, and have spent lots of time working on full day endurance. I hope to get back on the Nose and climb it in 16 hours or so. Basically a dream day for me would be to finish before dark or at least midnight. Good luck on the Captain. For me all training is ultimately prep for the few chances that I get on routes like the Nose. My weakness now is probably rope work and related big wall skills like jugging. Eric Whitbeck
Joined Mar 27, 2006
321 points
Mar 28, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: On the North America Wall in 1977.
Eric, the NIAD is all endurance, endurance, endurance.
My training for it consisted of 1 set - 50 reps of 11 different exercises, three days a week. On the other days I did 45 minute laps on the boring vertical wall at the local sports club, wearing all the gear I would be carrying on the route including a full Camelbak. I did that for almost six months.
When I was actually out climbing on real rock, I'd try to climb all day and even push through at the end of the day for a couple more routes when I was tired.

This coming June, I have a not so secret weapon, my partner is Cheyne Lempe!

Another tip is to go sit down with your NIAD partner and go over every single pitch, anchor and odd situation, in excruciating detail! Every single little tiny bit! Figure out what you are going to do and how you are going to do it in vivid detail.

Good luck on your next attempt!
Mark Hudon
From Lives on the road
Joined Jul 27, 2009
333 points
Mar 28, 2013
Rock Climbing Photo: alpine happiness.
these days, older climbers are my heroes. they know all the tricks, have all the moves, and display the most solid techniques.
i watch them close. i learn. and often compare my approach to their style, looking for ways i can potentially grow or adapt.
you can see their passion has thrived thru tests of pain, stress, injuries, failures, and life in general. and their motives now, seem largely based on sustainability; which suits my interests of climbing forever as well.

(( when a 60 year old racks up, then does leisure laps on country club, athlete's feat, and englishman's home...i start to wonder if i should show up wearing wool socks with birkenstocks also! ))
nicholas patterson
Joined Aug 17, 2009
69 points

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