“Diversity in climbing.” Alex Honnold tosses out the buzz-phrase in an interview during the Olympics. Alex is the world-famous voice & face of climbing (and my son). 

But diversity is only a thing if you’re young, apparently. 

“There’s been a huge effort in the climbing world to make it more inclusive,” says his wife, Sanni McCandless, but she’s talking mainly about the male/female divide. 

Diversity, or inclusiveness, in the media seems to refer to one’s gender, skin color, or ethnicity. But…

All my mentors in climbing had gray hair and were retired.

Next month I’ll celebrate

my 70th birthday

on the summit of El Capitan.

Why are there no photos in the media of our demographic? No articles focused on us?

About 15.2% of Americans are seniors. People who reach 65 these days have an average of about 20 more years to remain active. And older women outnumber older men by about 7 million or so.

And yet, browse through any climbing magazine…running magazine….  Any magazine (except, maybe, AARP). Yep, you guessed it: we’re just … absent. MIA… as if we weren’t out there doing amazing things!

But we are! And many of us started as seniors! Often, magazine articles celebrate the ‘old-timers’ in their sport, the ones who climbed or ran or swam their whole life, well into their senior years. Like Fred Beckey, who climbed well into his 80s.

But what about all of us out there who are just getting started? Many seniors were completely busy all their adults lives taking care of other people, earning money, working on careers, caring for old or young. 

And then, that changes. We’re free to do what we want, when we want. We have the money to spend on gear, the time to go where the activities and our dreams take us. 

t’s more than time to let those young ‘uns know we’re out there — and to celebrate us! 

4 thoughts on “Diversity?

  1. Hi Dierdre,
    Happy 70th Birthday!!!!
    Sending lots of good thoughts & prayers as you celebrate your B-day and climb El Cap. God bless you.
    Hope to get together soon to celebrate in person.

  2. Yes, Dierdre! We now have the time and money to do the things we want. A dream of mine is to climb. I’ve done lots of other things, but haven’t tried that yet. Keep spreading the word. Our time is now!

  3. Thank you for putting this out there. I’m very much in agreement with this demographic. Like you I started sport climbing at 56. I couldn’t tell you how many people tell me that I’m to old to do actual rock climbing outdoors. I’d like to see more of us so called seniors in the media, enjoying outside activities/sports that are stereotyped as a “young person sport “.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *