It’s finally been officially confirmed that Dr Fred Distelhorst, a retired orthodontist from Vail, Colorado, has become, at 88, the oldest person ever to climb Kilimanjaro.
Dr Distelhorst climbed with his grand-daughter, Ellen Edgerton, who was already in Tanzania volunteering for a charity project.
The duo took six days to climb Africa’s highest mountain, finally reaching the summit on July 20th 2017.
Unusually, Dr Distelhorst took oxygen for the final push to the summit, as recommended by his doctor, but otherwise found the climb relatively straightforward; indeed, Dr Distelhorst is quoted as saying that he was surprised the climb ‘wasn’t harder’.
Regular readers of this website will know that the record for the oldest person to climb Kili has been broken more often than any other over the past few years, with the previous holder, Angela Vorobeva, who set her record on October 29th 2015 at the age of 86 years, 267 days.
Thankfully, Dr Distelhorst also beats the ‘unofficial’ record set by the mysterious Valtee Daniel, a Frenchman whom I only read about once while researching for the first edition of our guidebook way back in 2001, and whom I have never heard anything else about since. Mr Daniel’s climb has never been recognised by the Guinness Book of Records, who insist that any record attempt is verified by independent witnesses and must be filmed, photographed and meticulously documented in a log book. Mr Daniel was said to be 87 at the time of his climb – so Dr Distelhorst has eclipsed this record too.
You can read more about the records for Kilimanjaro on our dedicated records page.