>My husband and I started rock climbing last fall, and are
>now avid climbers, and continuing to improve technically all
>the time (very satisfying). Here's my question. We're both
>40 years old (darn, all those years we could have been climbing
>but didn't know) and are wondering how aging affects
>climbing abilities. I assume strength and balance diminish
>sometime along the way, and that one might have to be satisfied
>with lower-difficulty climbs. Are there any 50, 60, or 70 year
>old climbers out there? How many years climbing do we have left?
>Another side question, how many folks out there climb with
>Jane Merrow, Mentor Graphics Corporation, Portland, Oregon
Well, I'm 37 and I expect to be climbing a good many years yet (though my 3
kids are putting a SERIOUS cramp in my climbing; actually my current plan has
one of them dragging me up ASTROMAN in about 15 years).
Also, John Gill is still cranking away well into his 50s. And I used to see
Fritz Weissner doing routes in the Gunks when he was in his 70s.
As long as your climbing enjoyment doesn't depend crucially on a climb's grade
(and the continual escalation thereof), I think you can almost climb 'til you
drop. Quick reflexes are not a key factor in climbing while strength and
endurance (and technique) can be maintained pretty well (though increasing them
Lots of rock jocks move on to Alpinism as they get older (e.g. Bridwell,
Rowell). Bridwell's around 50 now. Climbing had 2 part series a few years back
on climbing after 30 (or something like that). I remember feeling encouraged (
"Well, Bridwell's older than me; Rowell's older than me; etc.").
I think it is pretty reasonable to climb up to 5.11 or so for quite a while.
The main limitation (IMHO) is that climbing competes with so many other things.
When you're young, it's much easier to channel most of your energies into one
thing. If you can still do that, you shouldn't have much trouble.