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


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Ricky D

Trad climber
Sierra Westside
Mar 12, 2014 - 09:41pm PT
56 years of age.

Since age 50 I have collected one Transient Ischemic Attack, two bouts of Skin Cancer, three degenerated discs and just today found out I have cataracts from "too many years outside".

I'm starting to think the only thing "golden" about the "Golden Years" is the color of your pee. Even then, only if you take a lot of B Vitamins!


Ice climber
Pomfert VT
Mar 12, 2014 - 09:44pm PT
Almost 52 now.. Led half of this crazy 5 @ the Lake yesterday.. feeling prety good:) My partner was a young pup and wanted to do annother climb to cap the day off. I was satisfyed with the one climb and passed on more excitement for the day.
Nice alpine feel.
Nice alpine feel.
Credit: tradmanclimbs

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Mar 12, 2014 - 10:14pm PT
I've done some roped climbing every year since I was 20, and it was a huge part of my life in my 20's, although the hardest route Iíve ever led was only 5.10D.

I kept rock-climbing at a reduced pace in my 30ís & 40ís, but gave up ice and big mountains.

Ripped a bicep during a slightly desperate lunge at age 50, which I felt for a long time, but I kept doing some easy leads every year. After 50, most people can count on some kind of health problem every year or so. Mine have mostly been Achilles tendonitis,and Basel Cell skin cancers, with an occasional bout of bad back for variety.

My old friend Donini (the bastard) dragged me back into easy for him, hard for me climbing in 2010, but I find myself at age 64, enjoying 5.4-5.9 and the social fun of climbing.

My only advice is: stay positive and hang with positive people!

Trad climber
Mar 12, 2014 - 10:43pm PT
There's little doubt that body and health are the most important things in this life, but outside of this life, it appears to be pretty amazing, too. At least it is for me. Every event or procedure that takes a bit of my physical capability or vigor from me (even if temporarily) exposes something else wonderful. It's all good.

Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Mar 12, 2014 - 11:05pm PT
Fritz and Brokendown...follow your bliss....rj

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
Mar 12, 2014 - 11:17pm PT
I'll be turning 53 in July, which will also be my four year sobriety date. Since quitting the sauce I have lost 50+ pounds, rediscovered my passion for climbing, put up around 30 FAs, and am feeling healthier than I did 10 years ago.

Recently moving to Boulder was a 35 year goal that finally leaves me surrounded by new rock, new routes, and constant motivation. I feel blessed every time I go out, whether I am doing a long cruiser or a heinous number pusher. Both kids are out of college and my daughter lives only an hour away in Denver and is a willing and able partner. My wife is supportive of my active and healthy passions, and being self-employed gives me flexibility to climb when I want. As a result I don't feel or act my age, I don't see any benefit to it.

I accept that I will be presented with new limitations year by year, but hope to fight those challenges with grace, style, and a positive outlook.

"Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many."

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Mar 12, 2014 - 11:25pm PT
"Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many."

Wow. Does that say it all. That is now engraved on my heart and mind!
Thank you!


Mar 12, 2014 - 11:56pm PT
Only one thing is important at any age. Do you find what you are doing, exciting?

Today at the Clean Team four new volunteers, just showed up. Plus three more who joined two weeks ago. Yesterday I got a call wanting help with setting up an event in a new area. Last Saturday I helped a group working with kids. There were 60 kids there. Kind of embarrassing thing happened though. One youngster saluted me. Must have been my CalTrans sunglasses. What we had was a failure to communicate.

Beginning to think I need to get a go-Pro video camera and put together an audio visual presentation. For schools and other groups. Way way outside of my skill set.

I'd have to learn.

Got a cell phone today. Probably get titanium bones next.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Mar 13, 2014 - 12:01am PT
^^^ Did you try the new skin tight underwear boxers?


Mar 13, 2014 - 12:04am PT
Yes, but they gave me a god awful headache.
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Mar 13, 2014 - 12:12am PT
Enjoy your life. If a bicycle or a pair of skis efficiently takes up the slack for the time vortex that is rock climbing, be happy about it. You are still taking risks, breathing air in the forest and psyched about something good.

How long can anything last ? One thing ends and another begins. Largo wrote the best ever article once. Something about being a champion and then after, being graceful about it once the moment's over.


Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Mar 13, 2014 - 12:19am PT
Now I really feel young.

Old dudes rock.

Edge, less weight= smaller casket= conservation. I'm having the same revitalizing experience finding unclimbed rock and putting up routes.

Life is an adventure.

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Mar 13, 2014 - 12:27am PT
Do you find what you are doing, exciting?

Oh no...another engraving on my heart and mind!!!! I hope I have a large enough heart and enough mindfulness to capture all these.
As for climbing and physicality....tomorrow off to climb in JTree. At 64 I'm never sure exactly what I will be up for until I get to the base of a climb....but as part of a hard core geezer squad we never give up...some are still climbing walls, hauling pigs and porta ledges, some like me, climb anything that gives me the thrill-of-a-lifetime rappel...or multi pitch that allow me to walk off and still walk the next day.
I'm not sure what the balance of aging gracefully (or not) is for you, but you will find it. For me, in terms of "aging" I found my early to mid 50s to be like a young teenager again....finding and exploring and learning and accepting what your next stage of life will be all about. It wasn't always easy to navigate and accept many of the changes, but denying them stalled me. If you stay active I think you'll be surprised at how physically strong you can be.
It's pretty special to discover yourself all over again...surprise yourself!


Mar 13, 2014 - 12:44am PT
That was a good one, Edge

Mar 13, 2014 - 12:56am PT
Everyone's a little different, Trusty Rusty, except for the ones who are a lot different. Just never forget what is most important: making people laugh.

One youngster saluted me. Must have been my CalTrans sunglasses.


Big Wall climber
Seattle, WA
Mar 13, 2014 - 01:20am PT
Climbing as an activity is not really important to me anymore. I love to climb when I get the chance, but I don't invest a lot of effort in the pursuit. I still like to hang out with climbers and meet new friends in the community because we do have a special and unique community of individuals here. There is nothing quite like it.

Lynne L. has talked about it; not quite realizing the depth and strength of how we reach out to grab that hand and provide a lift in those dark moments. The discovery of belonging to a family you might not of known you have, that really cares. It IS about light.

lost, far away from Poland
Mar 13, 2014 - 01:28am PT
Aging gracefully.

Credit: moosedrool

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA/Boulder, CO
Mar 13, 2014 - 01:55am PT
If you are having fun who cares at what grade you are climbing? Isn't all about having fun anyway?
Trusty Rusty

Tahoe Area
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 13, 2014 - 02:39am PT
What a wealth of good natured insight. Again, I hope not to emphasize grades or ratings, clearly not an issue in the grand scheme. Now fun on the other-hand. . .absolutely an issue.
Some of my favorite aspects of aging are a heightened sense of authenticity and a cooler perspective. Though in my youth the inheritance of intangibles meant next to nothing, today it's a whole new paradigm and I'm hauling in all I can, paradoxically hauling in whats been mine all along. I guess it's like taking back the neighborhood lawns for comfort stops, flexing pedigree right to the fullest extent. That said, dark glasses, hats and good running shoes are good precaution.

Trad climber
Mountain View, CA/Boulder, CO
Mar 13, 2014 - 03:07am PT
Don't worry about what people think about you(that means getting off of Facebook immediately) is very liberating.
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