50s + Thread - The Art of Aging Gracefully (or not)


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Trusty Rusty

Tahoe Area
Topic Author's Original Post - Mar 12, 2014 - 04:09pm PT
For some, turning 50 is a tea break on the flowering path of security and success. All the little piggy’s lined up; happy grown family, mortgages paid, increased time to climb and play. . . Ref: Chapter 12, A Guide to The American Dream. I got stuck on chapter 11 and at 51 a self made antithesis of that dream, juggling the teetering catastrophe is taking on a new element . . . . physical ability.

Enjoyed decades of moderate 11's and A3 climbing without really bleeding for it, but since passing 45 those ratings have dropped about 2 grades per year. These days French freeing steep sidewalks is totally on.

Hope to end all that on a good note, slide in a few more walls and bucket list routes before I take up extreme lounging. Recently committed to a Paleo diet to rid the pig wings, begrudgingly cut out libations and started a regular workout routine. Already feeling a boost in energy and stoke, but still regarding wall climbing, having a hard time shaking concerns of blown out muscles and tendons, recovery time etc.

Probably sounds more like torn sack which I can accept, regardless, still interested in experiences and perspectives from climbers in their finer years whether pulling down hard, just recreating or having donated the rack.

What are you doing to stay in the game, how’s your drive to push it, how is (was) it hanging up the gear for good?
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Mar 12, 2014 - 04:20pm PT
Mostly cruise control for me, mate. I'm up and down, in health, in the world, in climbing. On the upswing right now - recovering well from spinal chord surgery and lots of tumultuous uproar in life, spring is in the air here in the central valley, poppies blooming, orchards going off, honey bees by the billions - its NICE!

Feeling the same old desire to climb. I love her still. Sometimes she's a stern demandtrix, doling out punishment for over reaching. Other times she's a sweet lover caressing my brow and rewarding my exertions with a warm glow.

I'm sure I'll trip over something soon and hurt myself again though :) My left ankle has some numbness that affects my balance. Almost pitched head first off a cliff 2 or 3 weeks ago; tripped while setting a TR. I'm a danger to myself and others!!!!11111 :D

But know what?

Spring is in the air, trusty rusty and so is climbing. And so long as I'm fit, I'll be pining for it. Ratings are only important to me in that I can intelligently pick an objective. The rate itself, while such games still tickle my ego from time to time? Its more about - measuring myself against my own past performance, a thermometer of my own making. Can I push the mercury up the tube one more time?

Yes I can America!


Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Mar 12, 2014 - 04:30pm PT
I hear you TR!

Climbing stayed reasonably easy until I got close to 50. (48?) At 53 I still have two in the roost and a lot to do at home.

The bad news is that I have to look at moderate 10's with a whole new set of eyes.

The good news is that the easier stuff got interesting again!

Still plugging away, not interested in quitting.....

Mar 12, 2014 - 04:43pm PT
Since I didn't start climbing until my late 40's, I have the advantage of being a never-was instead of a has-been. At 60, I'm climbing the hardest I ever have, but that isn't saying much - leading 5.9 trad and 5.10 sport. All those boring but effective strategies - healthy diet, rest, exercise - play a role in hiding your true age from your body. I'm just grateful each time my body is still able to chew what my mind has bitten off. The more cool places in the world I go climbing the more places I want to get to. I know one of these times it will all come to an end, either with a bang or a whimper, but for now I'm enjoying the ride.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Mar 12, 2014 - 05:00pm PT
I've got one word for you D-O-N-I-N-I....

Sport climber
Mar 12, 2014 - 05:01pm PT
I know one climber who peaked climbing 7c/5.12.d at the age of 65. When I climbed with him a couple of years ago he was 73 and still able to lead routes graded 6c/5.11.c on vertical wall even though he hadn't climbed much the last few years. The only place you could see the age was during steep O2 demanding walks to get to the cliffs.

There's hope... :o)
Trusty Rusty

Tahoe Area
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 12, 2014 - 05:35pm PT
Appreciate the input, all great stuff.
Regarding rating -vs- enjoyment, totally not a personal issue as well, just that walls have clear figures of admission.
Marlow, WTF. . .that dude's a Crimp Mac Daddy.
paul roehl

Boulder climber
Mar 12, 2014 - 05:42pm PT
I'm not sure what it really means to age gracefully I suppose I mean to go not too gentle into that good night, you know, rage, rage against the dying of the light. I got pretty competent climbing in my 20s and 30s and then increasing responsibility, kids, family: the climbing and adventure seemed to drift away. Then started at the gym in my forties and to my surprise got in the best climbing shape of my life. But here I am just about to turn 66 wishing I was a hell of a lot younger, thinking I'd like to cut out to the Valley this week and see if I have anything left at all. Really missing the place... whew, too much self pity got to get back to work.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Mar 12, 2014 - 06:14pm PT
57c and in the best overall shape of my life. 5'10" 154lbs. Very active, climbing a lot, and running at least one half marathon length trail run a month since december of 2011. Haven't eaten mammal flesh since 1982, haven't done booze since 2010. I think that's all part of it. I've also been incredibly fortunate health wise.

Climbed 5.11+ ow on Sunday, yesterday I did a fifteen mile trail run and lifted weights. Today is a rest day. I feel better when I'm active. I feel rundown if I sit too long.

I'm in a fairly unique position as far as having freedom and locale in which to be this active. I don't know if I'm as good an all-round climber as I've been, but as far as the offwidth climbing I've been specializing in, I'm climbing about as well as ever.

A few years ago I was heavier, less active, though pretty achieve by normal standards, and had various aches and pains all the time.

Don't stand still.(?)

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Mar 12, 2014 - 06:22pm PT
Satchel Paige once said "don't look back, 'cause something might be gainin' on ya'."

I feel the ravages of father time at age 75, but I still have the desire to get out and "do stuff." Granted, I don't lead (much) anymore, but I can still haul my carcass up some longer climbs (8-10 leads) at a 5.6-5.8 difficulty. It still pleases me to do so...

Trad climber
Mar 12, 2014 - 07:13pm PT
+1 Jaybro!
I'm turning 50 on the upcoming green drinking holiday. Actually kinda psyched about it which is good cause not much choice in the matter.
Don't make the mistake of thinking you have time or that it is on your side. 50's = decide what's important and get after it.

Boulder climber
Mar 12, 2014 - 07:56pm PT
At fifty you are still young. Adjust your attitude and get out there and perform.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Mar 12, 2014 - 08:04pm PT
^^^^^^. +++++++++++++a bazillion
50s= faux geezerville


Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Mar 12, 2014 - 08:06pm PT
Right you are John.....we are both old enough to have children fifty years old. I'm at DIA with a four hour layover on my way back from Patagonia....convoluted trip from hell, definetly feel my age right now.
looking sketchy there...

Social climber
Lassitude 33
Mar 12, 2014 - 08:07pm PT
A big part of climbing when older is motivation.

If you go at it (assuming generally good health), you can still climb pretty hard. But, it takes much longer to get in shape (you have to work at it slowly and carefully and more) and you get out of shape much faster (take time off from activity and you lose it quickly).

Also, you are working off of the foundation you laid in years past (were you active or sedentary, took care of yourself or abused), genetics, and luck.

scuffy b

heading slowly NNW
Mar 12, 2014 - 08:11pm PT
Point taken, but I'll say that I see plenty of 50-yr olds who are OLD.

Social climber
Joshua Tree
Mar 12, 2014 - 08:14pm PT
Lee Scheftel climbed his first 13s in his 50s, and his first 5.14a at 59.

Bill Ramsey is cranking in his 50s, sent 14b at like 52.

Chuck Claude is climbing 13 on gear in his 50s.

Limits are mostly in your mind. Eat well, rest and recover properly, gradually add volume, take regular back off periods, and stay active.

Trusty Rusty

Tahoe Area
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 12, 2014 - 08:17pm PT
No foreplay or lube there John, fully agree though, attitude of Do.

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Mar 12, 2014 - 08:18pm PT
I don't intend to go out in a Nursing Home, drooling on my cardigan with a tube up my wazoo!

I'd much rather vapor-lock on a hard climb in the Dolomites.

Difficulty is only relative to expectations, and this year I've raised my personal bar quite a bit.

The only joker in the deck is injuries; after a while they take longer to heal and recovery time can be...annoying! Just don't get hurt being stupid.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Mar 12, 2014 - 08:22pm PT
I've raised my personal bar quite a bit

Is that the limbo bar, Rodger?

Rock in' Rodger! Love ya, man!

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