It’s been an exciting week for the older generation of outdoor athletes. First, a 69-year-old hiker was stung almost 300 times by killer bees and survived.
Then, on Saturday, in a feat of even more incredible badassery, 73-year-old Tamae Watanabe of Japan reached the summit of Mount Everest becoming the oldest woman to ever climb the mountain (the oldest man was a Min Bahadur Sherchan of Nepal, who did it at 76).
Several factors make this accomplishment even cooler than it first appears.
- Wanatabe was already the oldest woman in the world to summit Everest, having climbed the mountain at the age of 63. She smashed her own record by 10 years just for the hell of it.
- She left the last high altitude camp Friday night and climbed all night long, arriving at the summit on Saturday morning.
- Conditions on Everest have been harsher than normal this year, causing many teams of fit young climbers to cancel their expeditions, but this didn’t stop Watanabe.
- It was windier than usual on Saturday when Watanabe reached the peak and descended.
- Three others climbers died in summit bids (while a fourth may have died after simply losing it) on the south side mountain over the weekend, climbing at the same, or almost the same, time as Watanabe. Watanabe was, however, on the north side.
I have been mulling the idea for some time now. Ever since I realized that climbing Mount Everest is a test of physical endurance, rather than technical climbing skill, I’ve considered trying it.
Tamae Watanabe has inspired me. It is official–I must climb Mount Everest before I die. Preferably, within the next five years to ensure that Mount Everest isn’t the place that I die.
Lead photo by Darcy McCarty
***This photo is not of of Tamaei Watanabe nor of Mount Everest and is purely for illustrative and inspirational purposes.***