Is Sixty Too Old to Climb a New Mountain?

When I was 60 years old, seven of us decided to climb Blue Mountain in the Adirondacks. I’d done it before and wasn’t too enthusiastic, but here was a challenge. Could I still do it?

Rock climbing isn’t my favorite activity, but what else would I do that day? Sit at home and read a book?

We were four adults and three young boys. It was fun watching the kids scoot up the mountain ahead of us, soon enough lost from sight. I remembered what it was like to have a body made of air—a mere nothing to carry up a mountain at full speed.

Toward the top, 4,000 feet above sea level, where it becomes a long, steep climb up sheer rock, I felt faint and nauseous. “I’m too old for this,” I muttered to myself. “I’m probably having a heart attack.” Then I came upon strong, young Jessica sitting on a rock, her head in her hands. “I’m never going to do this again,” she moaned.

“I agree,” I was panting.“For what? What’s the point of all this suffering?” I took off my baseball hat and whooshed away the flies and mosquitoes. My hatband was soaked.

After a rest we climbed to the top and sprawled on the flat rocks like squashed bugs.

When we had recovered a bit, we sat up and watched the rest of the group lounging, drinking water, enjoying the view of the lake below. The boys raced up the observation tower. Jessica was puzzled. “Look at them. They look like they’re having fun. It must be a mental thing.”

The view was fine, the weather fabulous. It was the kind of day you want to put in a bottle and take home with you.

There is also something to be said for making some nice sandwiches and fresh lemonade to nourish mountain climbers after they’ve come back down, but in the future, I’ll be more thoughtful about saying, “I can’t” or “I’m too old.”