VAIL, Colo. (CBS4) – 88-year-old Fred Distelhorst was sitting at home when his granddaughter called with an offer he says he couldn’t turn down.
“She calls and says ‘Opie, would you climb Kilimanjaro with me,’” said Distelhorst.
The retired dentist was cleared by a doctor and days he was later halfway around the globe climbing one of the world’s highest peaks in an effort that may have landed him in the history books.
“It’s worth the view. The skies were clear blue but it was a bit tedious and boring,” he said.
Distelhorst did it only needing oxygen on the final ascent during the six-day excursion.
“There were some times at night when I thought ‘I can’t believe we are really going through with this but we are so let’s give it our best,’” says Ellen Edgerton, his 22 year-old granddaughter.
“I think I’m in pretty good shape even though I’m a little old guy,” said Distelhorst.
Distelhorst says climbing the 19,341 foot Kilimanjaro didn’t seem too tough because he has good training. For the last 40 years he’s skied here more than 100 days a year. In fact, he says it’s closer to 120 days.
He credits his good health to a vegan diet and his granddaughter’s do-good spirit.
“She’s really special to me and I wanted to be with her,” said Distelhorst.
Ellen called her grandfather while she was volunteering for a canyon orphanage. She was hoping to raise money to build housing for boys affected by violence and the AIDS epidemic. Her fundraising page gofundme.com/climbing-for-change has already earned nearly $1,500.
“I figured, let’s climb for a purpose instead of just a hobby,” said Edgerton.
Despite his age, Distelhorst moves faster than most millennials. He says he’s motivated by knowing what kind of adults his grandkids have become.
“I want to live long enough to see those kids get an education and get into the real world,” said Distelhorst.
Edgerton says she’s reached out to The Guinness Book of World Records to confirm that her grandfather is now the oldest person to reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. She said expects to know for sure in the next two weeks.
by Stan Bush