/ Advice for the young at heart.

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Goucho on 26 Nov 2016
Ok, some advice/observations required.

Of late, Mrs G has been getting concerned that I'm overdoing the training. In the most diplomatic way, she's pointed out I'm 60 next year, and even though I've just had my annual medical recently and my Doc says I'm in fine fettle, she still thinks I'm pushing it too hard.

We'll shortly be heading down to Courmayeur for the winter as usual, and in amongst the skiing I've got one or two routes in mind - Colton Mac, Puetery Integrale and possibly a third tilt at the demon?

God bless the wondrous woman, she's given me her blessing for these - well certainly the first two - but I'm not sure deep down inside she's really happy about it, and is just being incredibly understanding of my love for climbing?

So I'm starting to think I'm being both selfish and greedy in still wanting to do big routes? It's not like I haven't done my fair share in the past.

I love the bones of Mrs G, and we share a love of the mountains. We skied the Haute Route together earlier in the year, and it was glorious - like a second honeymoon.

So whilst a big part of me still wants to climb big routes, another big part of me doesn't want to take advantage of her generosity of spirit, or cause her upset.

So I've got a bit of a quandary going on.

jethro kiernan - on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:

My old man is still doing triathlons at 76, European age grouper champion a couple of years ago, you should know what your capable off and what your limits are, love is often expressed as concern (especially by our more sensible half's) but sounds like you can navigate this.
L TheFasting - on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:

Is her worry that you'll wear yourself out with training or that it's too dangerous to do big climbs at your age?
Trangia - on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:

So long as you are healthy and your ticker is still strong then you can push yourself as hard as you like.

60 is young!
Goucho on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to TheFasting:

> Is her worry that you'll wear yourself out with training or that it's too dangerous to do big climbs at your age?

I think a bit of both.
David Rainsbury on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:

60 next year? I don't see that as a problem. I'm 66 and intent on living life to the max until they nail the lid on the pine box - and then they'd better nail it down hard.
My wife is wonderfully supportive. She knows this is me, the man she married, though she too finds it hard when I buzz off to the Alps. My mantra is from Mark Twain:
"In 20 years time you will regret more the things you did not do than the things you did."
Enjoy! and stay safe.
David
Rob Parsons on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:

> We'll shortly be heading down to Courmayeur for the winter as usual, and in amongst the skiing I've got one or two routes in mind - Colton Mac, Puetery Integrale and possibly a third tilt at the demon?

The Peuterey Integrale would be quite a big tick in Winter, I imagine. Does it get many ascents then?

What's 'the demon'?
Post edited at 18:27
Goucho on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to David Rainsbury:

> 60 next year? I don't see that as a problem. I'm 66 and intent on living life to the max until they nail the lid on the pine box - and then they'd better nail it down hard.

> My wife is wonderfully supportive. She knows this is me, the man she married, though she too finds it hard when I buzz off to the Alps. My mantra is from Mark Twain:

> "In 20 years time you will regret more the things you did not do than the things you did."

> Enjoy! and stay safe.

> David

This is my approach too David. I'm just concerned that I maybe taking advantage of how wonderfully supportive Mrs G is?

Maybe one last big hurrah this winter will scratch the itch, and I can dial it back to less risky climbing from then on?
Fergal - on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:

You do know it has snowed a bit, Puetery integral in winter? who are you climbing with Ueli Steck, good luck with that.
Goucho on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to Rob Parsons:

> The Peuterey Integrale would be quite a big tick in Winter, I imagine. Does it get many ascents then?

> What's 'the demon'?

It would be Ian. Know via a third party a couple of French guys who did the Super Integrale a few years back (Casarotto's 1st ascent solo in 82' in winter is still one of the most stunning alpine performances IMHO).

Not sure how many repeats it gets in winter, and it might be too big an ask, but definitely would like to at least take a look later in the season (maybe mid to late Feb).

As for the demon???

It's got a hotel with telescopes at the bottom of it
James Jackson on 26 Nov 2016
James Jackson on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to Fergal:

Goucho has a tick-list that indicates he has the experience to select appropriate routes...
Fergal - on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to James Jackson:
Really, not in this case.

PS. super alpinism?
Post edited at 19:00
Goucho on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to Fergal:

> Really, not in this case.

Thanks for the advice.
Rob Parsons on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:

> As for the demon???

> It's got a hotel with telescopes at the bottom of it

Ah, right, that one.

Well settled conditions in late Winter seem like the best time to try it nowadays, so good luck: that would be a fine score to settle.
L TheFasting - on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:

Oh wow are you going back for the Eiger? I remember reading that legendary thread about UKC stories from the Eiger north face.
Robert Durran - on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:
> ...........possibly a third tilt at the demon?

Good luck and take care. That would be an awesome tick for you. Hat off to you for even considering going back....... Just pick bomber forecast and conditions from that newfangled internet thingy!
Post edited at 19:42
Simon4 - on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:
> We'll shortly be heading down to Courmayeur for the winter as usual, and in amongst the skiing I've got one or two routes in mind - Colton Mac, Puetery Integrale and possibly a third tilt at the demon?

Now, now, you are making the rest of us feel inadequate, looking at those sort of routes at your age! And we know you have the track record to make them realistic aspirations, not pie in the sky dreams or naive questions. What on earth do you think you are doing, destroying the "when I was in my prime, no problem, but now?" excuse?

Personally I am content to pick up the remaining 4000s, but the Integrale in Winter - big balls sir!

> So I'm starting to think I'm being both selfish and greedy in still wanting to do big routes?

I take it that is a rhetorical question, or rather musing. Yes, of course you are. But do not go quiet into that goodnight.
Post edited at 20:34
biped - on 26 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:

If you do even the half of it make sure you post a report on here to inspire all of us reluctant middle agers who spend their lives ducking the bombardment of 'too old for this sort of thing' received wisdom.

Other than that, I can't advise, but may your choice be the correct one whatever it may be.
Misha - on 27 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:
I'm impressed with aspiring to do the Integrale in winter! I dread to think about the amount of kit/fuel/food you'd need to take but at least getting water won't be an issue and the chossy sections would be safer. How many days do you think you would need?
Post edited at 00:41
Scarab9 - on 27 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:

I'm bouncing in late in the post as a spry 33yr old just to say two things.

Partners accepting the danger is always hard. I stepped back in my last relationship from the winter climbing (I actually prefer the less faff of a long run over the hills in the snow to be honest now anyway, though that can be bad enough). I don't know how you compromise on that but follow your heart

Second. Folks in their 60s/70s still gettingout there inspire my lazy arse to get out of bed and train and have adventures in the hopes I can still do it later. Thanks for doing!
Goucho on 27 Nov 2016
In reply to Misha:

> I'm impressed with aspiring to do the Integrale in winter! I dread to think about the amount of kit/fuel/food you'd need to take but at least getting water won't be an issue and the chossy sections would be safer. How many days do you think you would need?

It is only a 'maybe' at the moment Misha?

Did the South Ridge of the Noir last winter (decent via East Ridge) and the Peutery Ridge normal, and both were great.

Two freinds (both much better than me) asked me if I'd like to make up a three and have a look at the Integrale at some point this winter, so I thought, well, it would be a rather wonderful challenge? I think they're looking at 4/5 days max - which for mere mortals is quite fast, and where my fitness might not be up to spec at my age?

Knowing reasonably large parts of the route in winter, if it did get too much, there are a couple of ponts where I could bail on my own and leave them to continue.

So we wait and see?
Rick Graham on 27 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:

If you get the "pass" from Mrs G, I think you should use it!

Regarding the climbing considerations, IMHO, the Colton Mac and Eiger in benign winter conditions ( if you are lucky to get them ) should be easier in commitment terms to the routes you did last winter. Technically harder but that really is not an issue.

I am a bit perplexed how you would get off the PI by yourself. Descending the East Ridge of the Noire or crossing the Freney Glacier alone in winter could be quite stressful even distressing. Might be better to knuckle down and stay with your superstar mates even if it is just keeping up whilst they do the graft of breaking trail.

Your fitness and stamina do not seem a problem but only you know how you felt after doing those routes last winter,
as a guide and built up to doing the PI in winter they are probably the best two to choose, just need to link them now!

Take a pipe and slippers for the ultimate novelty photo for your blog, have fun.
kamala - on 27 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:

My suggestions, for what they're worth (probably not much):

1) Have this discussion with her. Sounds like you're communicating well anyway, but if you're asking this here, perhaps you've not touched on this aspect? Make sure she knows you appreciate her support and generosity, and that you realise she might not be entirely happy with it.

2) Consider the question of whether you're pushing too hard from an objective point of view.
On the medical front, just a standard checkup may not be give you the whole picture. What are the symptoms of overtraining; are you suffering from any of them, do you feel better if you give yourself a break from your training schedule? If you're clear from that sort of issue, then "60" is just a number with no particular biological significance.
On the personal front, is your training schedule stopping you doing other things that you'd like to do, particularly together with your wife? If you're having to cancel too many other events, perhaps it is time to rethink.

3) Make sure you give her your wholehearted support for things that she wants to do, and for things that you want to do together.

4) Hopefully, after all that: get out and do those routes, safely and happily!
Misha - on 27 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:
I've only done the Noire S Ridge and that was in summer but I get the impression that this is where the vast majority of the harder climbing is. The rest is still long of course but more of a route finding and chossaineering challenge (so bits of it could be better in winter?), then the final slog up. So I'd say you're well set up to give it a go. In a three is slower of course but you can spread the weight better.

How did you find the South Ridge in winter - did you manage to rock climb any of it or was it mostly winter climbing?
Goucho on 27 Nov 2016
In reply to Rob Parsons:

> Ah, right, that one.

> Well settled conditions in late Winter seem like the best time to try it nowadays, so good luck: that would be a fine score to settle.

A fool and his toes are easily parted

Fingers crossed for third time lucky!
Goucho on 27 Nov 2016
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Good luck and take care. That would be an awesome tick for you. Hat off to you for even considering going back....... Just pick bomber forecast and conditions from that newfangled internet thingy!

Thanks Rob.

I'm certainly not going near it unless there's a more or less bomb proof forecast and conditions.

But psychologicaly, I'm finally in a good enough place to consider it - it's only taken nearly 30 years
Goucho on 27 Nov 2016
In reply to Rick Graham:
> If you get the "pass" from Mrs G, I think you should use it!

I think I might make it the last time I ask for one after this winter Rick, regarding big knarly routes?

> Regarding the climbing considerations, IMHO, the Colton Mac and Eiger in benign winter conditions ( if you are lucky to get them ) should be easier in commitment terms to the routes you did last winter. Technically harder but that really is not an issue.

I have been going pretty well the last couple of seasons - well, by my standards - so I think my fitness and stamina levels are up to the job, although I'm finding my knees are taking longer to recover these days, and I've been wrestling with a niggling rotator cuff in my right shoulder too.

> I am a bit perplexed how you would get off the PI by yourself. Descending the East Ridge of the Noire or crossing the Freney Glacier alone in winter could be quite stressful even distressing. Might be better to knuckle down and stay with your superstar mates even if it is just keeping up whilst they do the graft of breaking trail.

I've decended the Freney and Brouillard glaciers a few times over the years, and in atrocious weather, so I'm actually not overly fazed by the prospect of doing it alone (famous last words!). I think this is probably because retreating (or running away) is probably my greatest attribute

Having decended the East Ridge of the Noire last winter, I don't think it's an overly complex or difficult option solo, as long as the weather doesn't crap out, then it would be a different proposition altogether. Of course those are only options I'd consider if I found I was really having difficulty keeping up the pace.

However, I wouldn't even consider it without a great forecast and conditions, and being based in Courmayeur, I've access to plenty of real time expert judgement on that score, particularly the two guys I'd be doing it with.

> Your fitness and stamina do not seem a problem but only you know how you felt after doing those routes last winter,

Apart from my knees, I felt pretty good, and really enjoyed the routes and the season.

> as a guide and built up to doing the PI in winter they are probably the best two to choose, just need to link them now!

> Take a pipe and slippers for the ultimate novelty photo for your blog, have fun.


Post edited at 15:14
Goucho on 27 Nov 2016
In reply to kamala:

> My suggestions, for what they're worth (probably not much):

> 1) Have this discussion with her. Sounds like you're communicating well anyway, but if you're asking this here, perhaps you've not touched on this aspect? Make sure she knows you appreciate her support and generosity, and that you realise she might not be entirely happy with it.

> 2) Consider the question of whether you're pushing too hard from an objective point of view.

> On the medical front, just a standard checkup may not be give you the whole picture. What are the symptoms of overtraining; are you suffering from any of them, do you feel better if you give yourself a break from your training schedule? If you're clear from that sort of issue, then "60" is just a number with no particular biological significance.

> On the personal front, is your training schedule stopping you doing other things that you'd like to do, particularly together with your wife? If you're having to cancel too many other events, perhaps it is time to rethink.

> 3) Make sure you give her your wholehearted support for things that she wants to do, and for things that you want to do together.

> 4) Hopefully, after all that: get out and do those routes, safely and happily!

We have a good balance in the relationship. Do loads of stuff together, and have our own stuff too - which suits Mrs G as much as me.

And if I was neglecting her, she'd certainly let me know in no uncertain Italian terms

I suppose I just don't want to take the freedom she gives me to pursue my climbing for granted.
ads.ukclimbing.com
wbo - on 27 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho: I've thought hard about replying here, but. Here's my opinion. I see your predicament, and if it's a time thing, then I have no solution. But I don't hear that it is, and maybe that comes as part of the package. My previous partner went on some 6 week trips, and as that was partof the package, so I was supportive. I want a partner, not a carer or just a pet person.

Re. danger - if you were taking a couple of punters, or were the 'lead' party, then it's a lot of commitment and responsibility. But if you're going as an equal, and not totally responsible, then I would be a lot less concerned.

petellis - on 28 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:

What a wonderfully encouraging thread. I'm in my mid-thrties and have had days when I wonder if I am getting past it and my days out on the hill are coming to an end (mostly due to long term injury). I'd love to think that my body wouldn't have given up when I am approximately twice my current age.

In reference to the OP, yeah they sound like big days out, but if you know what you are doing why wouldn't you go for it? Especially if, as you say, you are at the peak of your psychological form. If you start giving stuff up now then you will ever do them. Next thing you know you will become a house-cat, and that will be as bad for your missus as doing the routes!

GridNorth - on 28 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:

I wouldn't have thought twice about it at 60 (indeed for a short time I even considered going back on the North Face of the Eiger) but at 69 I decided to hang up my Alpine and Ice climbing gear for good and sold most of it because I was just not enjoying it as much as I had in the past and it all felt too much like hard work. It hurt walking in, it hurt walking out and I could not for the life of me get warm. If you want to go for it then go for it while you still can and perhapsmore importantly still want to.

Al
felt - on 28 Nov 2016
In reply to petellis:

You should look at some of the graphs of decline in performance with age in Joe Friel's Fast After 50. They're not at all steep until the athletes get into their 70s and 80s.
http://www.joefrielsblog.com/2013/09/aging-my-performance.html
wbo - on 28 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho: well thatsmy excuses as a mere 50 down the toilet

Seriously, if you think you're physically and mentally good, do it. I think the fact that you're wondering if it's a problem probably means it isn't . The problem would come if you did it irrespective of, or without thinking of, your partners opinion

SteveSBlake - on 28 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:

If Mrs Grouch will acquiesce, you should definitely go.

Many, many, folks are not blessed with the combined level of experience and fitness you are enjoying at your age. You are I think, genetically blessed and are duty bound to make use of that blessing on behalf of those who are not!

I'm the same age as you and I think I do quite a lot, balancing the daily requirements of life against the ongoing effort involved in 'climbing' in its various forms, and I think I do quite well. But what I do is dicking around the edges compared with your adventures.

You are clearly still very much in the game, with an impressive level of fitness, experience and enthusiasm. If you are still so motivated - why stop - (If you succeed on the Eiger you might only just be peaking!)

Finally think about donating your knees to medical science. The world needs to know how they are still that strong.

Circumstances are coming together for you. Do it!

Chapeau!

Steve
rocksol - on 28 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:
Now I'm retired I'm still quite fit and lightest I've been for 25 yrs. lots of cycling, bouldering and climbing usually with Martin Atkinson who,s 10 years younger, so I have to try really hard!. I'll get to the point; big ticks those for anyone in winter, so I think If it was me I,d think long and hard. I spend a lot of winter time in Cham. But usually skiing/touring You must be able to remember how physical routes like that are, but if you did one...big respect!!!
Just an aside but is it only me who didn't enjoy Haute route at all. Seems like days of skinning for short easy descents, along with crowded expensive huts and poor food
rocksol - on 28 Nov 2016
In reply to Goucho:
Now I'm retired I'm still quite fit and lightest I've been for 25 yrs. lots of cycling, bouldering and climbing usually with Martin Atkinson who,s 10 years younger, so I have to try really hard!. I'll get to the point; big ticks those for anyone in winter, so I think If it was me I,d think long and hard. I spend a lot of winter time in Cham. But usually skiing/touring You must be able to remember how physical routes like that are, but if you did one...big respect!!!
Just an aside but is it only me who didn't enjoy Haute route at all. Seems like days of skinning for short easy descents, along with crowded expensive huts and poor food
Luckily for me I think your demon was my first mixed route 1975
Goucho on 28 Nov 2016
In reply to rocksol:

> Now I'm retired I'm still quite fit and lightest I've been for 25 yrs. lots of cycling, bouldering and climbing usually with Martin Atkinson who,s 10 years younger, so I have to try really hard!. I'll get to the point; big ticks those for anyone in winter, so I think If it was me I,d think long and hard. I spend a lot of winter time in Cham. But usually skiing/touring You must be able to remember how physical routes like that are, but if you did one...big respect!!!

With age, comes caution and hopefully wisdom Phil, so everything will have to be right, but if it is, then think I'm certainly in the right place physically and mentally - the latter could quite possibly be the onset of insanity though

I'm also fortunate to have a couple of local alpine whippets as partners.

> Just an aside but is it only me who didn't enjoy Haute route at all. Seems like days of skinning for short easy descents, along with crowded expensive huts and poor food

We actually really enjoyed it True it's not very technically demanding or rewarding, but you get those views. I think good company is the key

> Luckily for me I think your demon was my first mixed route 1975

Yeah, but you've always been a knarly bugger!


Goucho on 28 Nov 2016
In reply to SteveSBlake:

> If Mrs Grouch will acquiesce, you should definitely go.

> Many, many, folks are not blessed with the combined level of experience and fitness you are enjoying at your age. You are I think, genetically blessed and are duty bound to make use of that blessing on behalf of those who are not!

I think the only thing I'm genetically gifted at is being able to retreat successfully when the shit hits the fan. During the war, my dad drove a truck filled with about 5 tons of amunition into the middle of a minefield in Northern France. He somehow managed to reverse back out exactly the way he drove in, and come out in one piece

> I'm the same age as you and I think I do quite a lot, balancing the daily requirements of life against the ongoing effort involved in 'climbing' in its various forms, and I think I do quite well. But what I do is dicking around the edges compared with your adventures.

I'm fortunate to be both retired, and have a place in Courmayeur, which means I can get a lot of training on location - I've got lots of big long days walking with a heavy sac and lots of long steep ascents, along with the whole of the Italian side of Mont Blanc on my doorstep, which does wonders for leg and cardio fitness. Combined with trying to keep up with Mrs G off piste (still failing on that score) my legs in particular are probably stronger than they've ever been - although the knees spend the evening protesting, and will one day probably just disintegrate.

> You are clearly still very much in the game, with an impressive level of fitness, experience and enthusiasm. If you are still so motivated - why stop - (If you succeed on the Eiger you might only just be peaking!)

I doubt it. But nice to still have some dreams, challenges and adventures to aim for.

> Finally think about donating your knees to medical science. The world needs to know how they are still that strong.

Mrs G has already promised them to the dogs.

> Circumstances are coming together for you. Do it!

> Chapeau!

> Steve

Goucho on 28 Nov 2016
In reply to GridNorth:

> I wouldn't have thought twice about it at 60 (indeed for a short time I even considered going back on the North Face of the Eiger) but at 69 I decided to hang up my Alpine and Ice climbing gear for good and sold most of it because I was just not enjoying it as much as I had in the past and it all felt too much like hard work. It hurt walking in, it hurt walking out and I could not for the life of me get warm. If you want to go for it then go for it while you still can and perhapsmore importantly still want to.

> Al

Thanks Al
petellis - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to felt:

> You should look at some of the graphs of decline in performance with age in Joe Friel's Fast After 50. They're not at all steep until the athletes get into their 70s and 80s.


Thats interesting, in the book bicycle science there is a graph that shows aerobic capacity of time trialists falling off a cliff shortly after 40 whereas this is the opposite.

However - all of that is academic if your joints decay into uselessness!
felt - on 29 Nov 2016
In reply to petellis:

> However - all of that is academic if your joints decay into uselessness!
Yes!

> a graph that shows aerobic capacity of time trialists falling off a cliff shortly after 40
The winners of the women's time trial at the Olympics and the WCs this year were 43 and 41 respectively...
rocksol - on 16:59 Fri
In reply to Goucho:

Yea did haute route with a mate who was guiding it and ended up shepherding unfit incompetents. The experience soon paled!!
Did Eiger with Bob D as I was his apprentice ( rember them) and didn't dare refuse. Took 2 goes though as the first attempt was like the first day on The Somme. Never experienced stone fall like it again and never want to. Bob was hit & limped up Spider & exit cracks on a tight rope. Soloing summit ice in mist nearly went down S face. At the time couldn't believe it; a caver from Buxton goes alpine caving
Goucho on 19:27 Fri
In reply to rocksol:

> Yea did haute route with a mate who was guiding it and ended up shepherding unfit incompetents. The experience soon paled!!

> Did Eiger with Bob D as I was his apprentice ( rember them) and didn't dare refuse. Took 2 goes though as the first attempt was like the first day on The Somme. Never experienced stone fall like it again and never want to. Bob was hit & limped up Spider & exit cracks on a tight rope. Soloing summit ice in mist nearly went down S face. At the time couldn't believe it; a caver from Buxton goes alpine caving

Was that Bob Dearman Phil?

A big cave is an apt description of the North Face under certain conditions.

And yes, the Somme is another good analogy. The stonefall is horrendous when it really kicks in, and then there's the noise!
Mick Ward - on 20:18 Fri
In reply to Goucho:

> Was that Bob Dearman Phil?

"We used to call him Clank - 'cos of all the aid gear hanging off him and clanking about. But when he did the Eiger, well that was really something..." (Gill Kent, nodding gently in approval.)

Mick

Goucho on 20:45 Fri
In reply to Mick Ward:

> "We used to call him Clank - 'cos of all the aid gear hanging off him and clanking about. But when he did the Eiger, well that was really something..." (Gill Kent, nodding gently in approval.)

> Mick

And he never forgave the young turks for freeing Orange Sunshine either
Mick Ward - on 21:04 Fri
In reply to Goucho:

Has the top pitch been freed yet? God it's aeons since I've been down that valley. So loved it. Spent many great days there.

The free beer for life promise for the FFA? An easy bet. He knew they'd stick to orange juice!

Mick




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