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New and Experienced Climbers over 50


Original Post
Lori Milas · · Rocklin, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 50

Hi. I hardly feel like I belong here (in this forum) but I'd love to talk with some other 'mature' climbers.  I'm 64 and started climbing, quite by accident, at Joshua Tree a year ago. (Daughter said "Come on mom, just put on a harness and try it.)  I happen also to be an Insulin Dependent Diabetic.  I had such a surprisingly good time in JT that I just decided to just continue when I got home, and see how far I could push myself.  I've been having a blast.  I've been at the gym most mornings, and at the local climbing gym several times a week... and getting outside to climb whenever I can.

Trouble is... I'm climbing with 20+ year olds, which is fine, but I'm not sure we can totally relate.  I love this community, and I love climbing.  Personally, I feel more fit, strong and able than at any time in my life but I'm aware that there is a 'window' of time left to do this.  I'd love to hear from others, to find out what works, what doesn't, and what to expect going forward.  

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Helen will be here shortly to tell you about her age and climbing. Stay tuned.

Welcome to climbing, regardless of age.

Edit: I climb with a few people decades younger than myself. I'm not sure what you mean by "relate." We are there to share our common enjoyment of climbing, even though we have different views on life. I also accept that almost all of my partners climb harder than I do and that's OK. I have embraced my mediocrity and still enjoy it! Having fun and staying safe are the important things to me.

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0

Don't worry too much about formal training - a lot of those young whippersnappers will be into that - just do what's fun.

Do - get as much variety as you can - try different things.

Mason Stone · · Boise, ID · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 0

Agree with FrankPS, I started to do it more safely, with ropes etc., later in life. Still have a blast doing it meaning I scare the crap out of myself regularly. My partners are decades younger but also some are a decade older. I can relate to all of them as we belong to the human tribe we have like needs, desires, passions etc. We all bleed, poop, cry. The lists go on of how we can relate. We can always find reasons we don't.

Was at the city of rocks once, got my butt kicked on a 5.10c. Just as my partner and I walked away two older climbers, I would guess there age at about 75 probably more, walked up and proceeded to flash the route. What was remarkable wasn't their age or gender, yes they were female, although I am reporting it for the purposes of this discussion, but how much fun they seemed to have while climbing.

JanLL LL · · Albuquerque, New Mexico · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 5

Hi

I am an older climber and I, too, just discovered climbing about 2 to 3 years ago. I have had fun with most every age. Saying that, it is pleasant to find other climbers around my age ... common life experiences related to age. Otherwise,  I am enjoy anyone who is kind, respectful, interested, safe, and fun.

Maybe post that you are looking for climbing partners in your region. You can talk about age, climbing level, whatever. It's about you and your comfort level. It doesn't have to be meant as an offense to anyone younger. Again, it's about you. 

Anytime you pass through NM I would be delighted to climb with you. I am 57.


Jim Fox · · Westminster, CO · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 50

I'm 61 and have climbed off and on for much of my life. Not as good at it as I used to be (don't get out that much these days) but still lots of fun (that's why we climb, I think). 

I've never worried much about the age of who I climb with but you can certainly find lots of climbers in your preferred age range who are looking for partners in your area by using the Partner Finder feature on MP

Roy Suggett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 6,565

Good for you/us!  All I know is it is still fun but we must take pains to mitigate getting hurt.  Takes twice as long to recover if it ever does.

Brian · · North Kingstown, RI · Joined Sep 2001 · Points: 655

I'm an old climber as well but have been climbing for 35 years.  I climb with some older partners but a lot more 20 and 30 somethings simply because there are more of them to partner with.  I can't relate to them on life experiences but in climbing we are in sync with the experience.  Keep climbing.  It is great to maintain strength and a great ego boast when you get a route that the young gun fell on.  

QdeBees · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 5

I'm in your age group -- started about 20 years ago, but now pretty much fit in with the folks my age who started in their teens and 20's (not counting those who competed in the world cup).  The kids that you are climbing with will probably be able to progress grade-wise faster than you, but you may be able to make up for some of that by being smart and crafty.  How far you push the grades is up to you -- how much time you want to put into it, talent, opportunities to climb, your body's ability to take the stresses and strains.  Take it slow to allow your joints and tendons time to acclimate to this new thing you're doing.  (I've spent the last year in treatment for a serious disease, and haven't climbed for the last 4 months, so will start in again slowly at the  bottom, and see where I get to.  Hopefully, back to where I was, at the least!)  I'm not planning on giving it up any time soon.  The important things: enjoy what you've got (today)... climb safe.... climb the kind of climbs you enjoy... climb with people you actually like... and savor the view. 

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,822

I suggest exploring several different _kinds_ of climbing, with different kinds of goals on very different kinds of terrain. "Climbing" spans such a wide range of activities, and the preferred styles have changed a lot. Maybe your time at JTree turns out to be a hint or step toward what you really find satisfying long-term.

A great area for that in summertime is make a base somewhere around Mammoth Lakes.

Might want to hire a professional mountain guide for multiple days and tell them you want maximum variety.

Problem with climbing w 20-somethings is that much of what they really _enjoy_ is comparing themselves with other 20-somethings -- which limits the possibilities for helping _you_ try different styles.

No point in training for a style of climbing you find later that you don't enjoy.

Ken

P.S. Since you posted to the Training forum, I will suggest that there are very few interesting kinds of climbing that do not benefit from more Finger strength - (Could try web search for the new Dave MacLeod fingerboard video).




Lori Milas · · Rocklin, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 50

Awwww.... THANK YOU!  How really lovely to read all these posts!  I do want to correct my initial statement... it's not that I can't 'relate' to these great climbers as humans.  I have a coach who is 27, and there is just no difference between us as people.  But I AM trying to understand what I need in terms of my mature body--what's possible for me, and what to aim for over time.  Fortunately no one else has any judgment about how I handle the rock. Everyone is friendly, helpful, and full of encouragement.

Ok. I will say that at the climbing gym there are giddy youngsters who are only about the rating of the climb.  Lots of leaping from 5.11c to 5/12s and hand-wringing over it.  For me, what took my breath away initially, was just the pure joy of looking out over the vast desert from atop a long pitch.  The journey was part of it.  I couldn't have cared less what the route was rated.  But today at the gym I fell off a complex 5.10a, which kinda bothered my ego. I just couldn't get up there, for some reason, but will keep trying.  Please keep the stories coming!  I'd like to know about safe climbing, fingers and tendons, illnesses, and how your family handles your climbing. Mine is kind of ... astonished. A bit concerned (for my sanity???)  :-)  

PS. I may be the only one who enjoys slab climbing.  There is a climb at Joshua Tree called Old Woman, and I am mesmerized by her.  It's just sheer slab, I cannot see any holds.  There is no way to practice for this kind of slab at the gym... which is ok with me. In one month I plan to return, and give it a go.  If anyone goes to Joshua Tree, let me know.  I'd love to meet you there! 

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Lori,

You must assure your own safety. You will probably climb with strangers that literally have your life in their hands. Just because someone says "I know how to belay" or "I climb 5.11" doesn't mean they are good belayers or know how to build a solid anchor. You have to use your own judgement and assess their skills.

Paying for a couple of days of private guiding with an AMGA guide would serve you well.

Edit: The Old Woman is not a specific climb/route, but a "formation" in Joshua Tree. (at least, I don't think there is a climb called that)

Lori Milas · · Rocklin, CA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 50

Thanks, Frank.  All my outdoor climbs have been with a guide.  Indoors, I am even more careful. I don't know when I will feel confident setting my own anchors without babysitting--I think I'll know when that day comes.  Thanks for all the thoughts--everything helps!   ("Old Woman"--or at least the picture I took when I was last there.)  

rgold · · Poughkeepsie, NY · Joined Feb 2008 · Points: 525

Well I'm headin' towards 75, but I've been climbing for 61 years, so I've already had what for quite a few people would pass for three climbing careers.  I climb with a range of ages, but honestly I enjoy myself more with older folks who have come to terms with their abilities and limitations and have the kinds of perspective on achievement that, perhaps, only come from having achieved.  I think kenr has a major point about experiencing as broad a spectrum of climbing activities as possible, to pin down a bit what you really like about it.

As for the physical part, there are certain obvious things.  One is recovery time; it takes longer to fully refresh.  A second is that at aerobic activities, you are likely to be a lot slower than reasonably fit younger people, even if you are "fit for your age."  This could be a serious obstacle for certain types of climbs where speed is critical for safety, but  even if that isn't true, can also an inconvenience if you are going as hard as you can but are still holding everyone else back.  For such things I find it pleasanter to be with people who are operating at a physical level similar to mine, but who are also experienced enough to deal with whatever the mountain decides to throw at us.  In other words, old broken-down climbers like me.  If the climbing involves scrambling and low fifth-class, I sometlmes choose to go solo and just plug along at whatever pace suits me, but this is not an option for someone new to the sport.  For rock climbing that isn't remote and isn't too long, physical differences are less important as long as I can actually do the climbing, which does mean that it can't be anywhere near modern standards.

Another feature of age is that you are never entirely sure which version of your physical self is going to show up on any given day.  Some days everything aches, other days you are, or imagine yourself to be, as bouncy as you were in your twenties. There's nothing really you can do about this, other than to be tolerant with yourself on the high-gravity days and enjoy the low-gravity days as, perhaps, something a bit more precious than you might have thought in your youth.

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,551

FrankPS wrote:

Helen will be here shortly to tell you about her age and climbing. Stay tuned.

You singled out Helen because she might comment about climbing and her age in a thread that is specifically about climbing and age?  Unlikely.  Why did you specifically name her?  

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Bill Lawry wrote:

You singled out Helen because she might comment about climbing and her age in a thread that is specifically about climbing and age?  Unlikely.  Why did you specifically name her?  

Because she is just what the OP asked for. Make sense? You may read anything into it you want, though.

Bill Lawry · · New Mexico · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 1,551

You might want to check the time. 12 hours since you called her out and she has not posted. Pretty unusual for us frequent fliers.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 11,822

Lori Milas wrote:

I may be the only one who enjoys slab climbing.  There is a climb at Joshua Tree called Old Woman, and I am mesmerized by her.  It's just sheer slab, I cannot see any holds.  There is no way to practice for this kind of slab at the gym... which is ok with me. In one month I plan to return, and give it a go.  If anyone goes to Joshua Tree, let me know.  I'd love to meet you there! 

Then in summertime I suggest you spend some days at Tuolumne Meadows. Has a great range of slab climbs, some much longer than anything at JTree. And it's within driving range of Mammoth Lakes (which has lots of fun moderate _featured_ granite + volcanic + quartzite even closer).

Myself I'm not much into "pure" friction slabs. Tuolumne also has some impure slabs, so you could try those too.

Ken

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,785

I find that early weekday afternoons in the climbing gym are when the retirees come out to play. 

Brian · · North Kingstown, RI · Joined Sep 2001 · Points: 655

I second the Tuolumne recommendation.  It is much nicer than JT in my opinion.  Perfect summer weather for climbing and closer to you.

Chris Rice · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 50

69 years old - 35 or so years climbing.  I enjoy the whole experience as much today as I did the first day I ever climbed - and that's what its all about - not some number grade.  Oh sure we all want to climb better and "trying" is key - but not everything.  I kinda like rgold's post about things.  

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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