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Author Topic: 71 year old oldest to summit Everest spring 2002?  (Read 11416 times)


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Well, here's more statistics news... shows you are never too old too learn (or do) ;) original story here:

Lew Freedman
"Training for Everest climb a step at a time
October 21, 2001

While the city sleeps, Al Hanna sweats.

No matter how crowded a big mountain is, you're always alone. With your heaving breath, with the heavy tread of your footsteps. With your heart thumping in your ears. So it is appropriate that Hanna's Chicago workouts are lonely treks in the middle of the night, in the middle of the quiet.

He cannot escape the city long enough to train for Mt. Everest, so he has created an Everest substitute at Lincoln Park. He cannot replicate the 29,035 feet above sea level of Everest's summit, so he climbs 100 steps at a time thousands of times. It sounds crazy, and he knows it. He rushes to use the description before anyone else can apply it to him.

It is the Chicago businessman's dream and pursuit to become the oldest person to scale Everest. Sherman Bull of Connecticut was 64, setting the age record when he climbed the mountain last spring. Hanna is 71 and won't have another birthday before May 2002, his likely summit time on a trip that will begin in March.

If perseverance, hard work and will (along with luck) are measurements of Hanna's chances, there is good reason to believe he will make it.

Hanna said Chris, his wife of 43 years, and his three grown children, support him, "but they all roll their eyes."

This will be Hanna's fourth try for Everest's summit. In 1993 he stopped at 22,000 feet. In 1995 he reached 28,000 feet. The last time he traveled to the Himalayas, in the spring of 2000, he reached 28,700. So close.

His guide, Vernon Tejas of Anchorage, believes Hanna could have made it then. He was within reach at the reasonable time of 10:30 a.m., and only the Hillary Step and the final ridge remained. But there was no one in front of them and the distance perspective seemed exaggerated. How far? Tejas knew because he had been there before. Hanna couldn't tell.
"I'm pretty sure we could have got there," Tejas said. "He wasn't sure he could get back down, and that's not an option."
They chose caution. If Hanna, who operates Mid-North Financial Services in Chicago, isn't even ready to retire from the business world, he certainly isn't ready to die on Everest.

It is hard to imagine anyone with a more offbeat training program. Hanna lives in downtown Chicago. Flat Chicago. No mountains. Not even an anthill amounting to anything. So he picked out an incline in Lincoln Park near the North Pond Cafe, nicknamed it Sled Hill and made it his own.
Several nights a week by the glow of streetlights, he walks the hill from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. People he tells think he has rocks in his head, and they're close. Although he stands just 5 feet 4 inches and weighs only 140 pounds, he carries a 60-pound pack filled with round plate weights. Even with thick clothing, oxygen bottles and bare essentials, he will carry much less on Everest.

But this transforms the Sled Hill workout from a stroll to an endurance hike. Up and down. Up and down. Maybe 40 times an outing. Usually there is no one around except cops on the beat. Usually there are no sounds but the squish of his feet on the dew-covered grass. He doesn't even play music.
"We don't wear headphones on Everest," he said. "We try to find ourselves in a state of Zen. The greatest difficulty with this morning walking is fighting the boredom."

Climbing Mt. Everest is one of the world's grandest adventures--and probably one of the most expensive, costing clients at least $65,000. While in recent years it has become an ever more accessible trip, a mountaineer must prepare for the most physically challenging climb of his life.

Besides his nocturnal walks, Hanna does 400 or more sit-ups and a couple of hundred push-ups daily. He does pull-ups and lifts weights. He works out 30 minutes on a stair-climbing machine. Now he is adding to his workouts, going up and down 80 stairs, four flights, in his building while carrying 30 pounds. He wants to be strong enough for a 22-hour summit day.
"I know his chances depend on what he's doing right now," Tejas said.

On an early fall night at Sled Hill, Hanna welcomed company. Typically, Hanna sleeps from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. This night he began walking an hour ahead of schedule. Hanna said he chose nighttime walks because "old people" sleep in spurts and this enabled him to use his time best. It was 58 degrees and clear. The moon was full and the stars bright. Lincoln Park, officially closed, was silent. It will be noisier on Everest.

"Oh, it's a great night," Hanna said. "The hot summer nights are the worst."

Hanna made for a peculiar sight with a bulging pack strapped on over padding and a T-shirt. He has a thick head of hair, wears glasses and wore shorts and knee pads. When he bumps into someone--usually young couples on weekends--he said they look at him as a visitor from outer space.

Hanna took up mountaineering when he was 58. He said he felt stale and wanted to try something new. He went after the seven summits, the highest peaks on all of the continents, and has made it to the top of all but Everest.
"I thought there was more to life than what I was doing," Hanna said. "I had that urge to go back to nature. It was magic. It was like being renewed."
Up and down the hill. Hanna moves very slowly.
"This is a shuffle," he said.
No matter. He knows he will be moving very slowly on Everest. He is trying to simulate conditions, not make workouts pleasurable.

There was a young man sitting at the top of the hill, taking time to think, he said. He asked Hanna many questions.
"At 71, that's inspirational," said Tom Biela.
Another guy showed up and tried to bum a cigarette. He sat down to watch too. Hanna laughed at the mob.
"It never happens," Hanna said.
One foot in front of the other. That's how you get to the top of Everest. That's how Hanna prepares his body. Just as tough is preparing his mind. No negative thoughts allowed. He thinks Tejas was right, that he could have made it in 2000.

"I absolutely should have gone," Hanna said. "I defeated myself."
The altitude might short-circuit him. Storms might interfere. There are no givens on Everest. But Al Hanna is making darned sure he doesn't defeat himself this time."
"He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary." -- Friedrich Nietzsche
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