Richard Birrer Joins the Club with 50!

[Published in Apex to Zenith #50 – Third Quarter 2000]

I was a mediocre athlete (swimming and diving) in high school and college. However, the Swiss genes have. been hard to disown, As a late-blooming dark horse I started climbing at the age of 34 beginning on Washington and Katahdin, but not at all focused on highpoints.

I then learned about mountaineering and glacier stalking via RMI on Rainier and Hood. Thereafter, each year I climbed different peaks in Central, North, and South America, Europe, Far East, etc so that by age 48 I had done 6 out of the 7 continental highpoints and most of the Alps. I am pondering Everest.

Throughout this period I took great pleasure in introducing my rug-rats (kids) to the sport by doing our country’s highpoints. And so this year on June, I finished my Fiftieth on Mauna Kea (contiguous 48 was done on 1 August on Gannett Peak) even though I did DenaIi back in 1986. Ironically, I should complete the Colorado 14ers this summer if all goes well – a nice 50th birthday present.

If someone had asked me about mountain climbing or highpointing 20 years ago I would have looked at them and dismissed the comment as dreaming. I wonder what I will be doing in another 20 years?!

Low moment in climbing – frozen bodies on Aconcagua and trash all over base camp.

High moment – leading my children to the capacity to climb themselves and enjoy it, and saving a climber’s life on Aconcagua.
Thanks for the opportunity to share.

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