Society

Old Folk v. Nature: 6 Endurance Conquests By World's Most Amazing Seniors

M.J. "Sunny" Eberhart just became the oldest person to complete the Appalachian Trail...at the ripe young age of 83. He is just one of many of the graying outdoor pioneers to set mind-boggling records that redefine staying power.

Old Folk v. Nature: 6 Endurance Conquests By World's Most Amazing Seniors

At age 70, Dierdre Wolownick is the oldest person to scale El Capitan

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

At 83, M.J. "Sunny" Eberhart has just become the oldest person to complete the Appalachian Trail, a 2,193-mile journey in the Eastern United States, setting off much well-deserved amazement among Americans.

Of course Eberhart is far from the first senior citizen to tackle a natural feat that virtually everyone, of any age, would never think of even trying. From mountain climbers to long-distance swimmers, here's a look at six hardcore adventurers to inspire young and old to get off the couch, and conquer the world...or at least go for a walk!

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro at 89

Anne Lorimor on a training walk with her dog Kevan

imwatchinganne/Instagramimwatchinganne/Instagram


Anne Lorimor might not be a professional climber, but that didn't stop the Arizona woman from walking up and down the tallest free-standing mountain in only nine days. The great- grandmother is the oldest person to do so and in fact, it was the second time Lorimor climbed the almost 20,000-foot-tall Tanzanian mountain, the first back when she was a spry 85.

Although, after a slightly older man set a new age record, Lorimor knew she had to reclaim her title, and for a good cause. Her climb was a fundraiser for Creating Exciting Futures, a foundation she founded to aid disadvantaged youth. And she's not done yet: Lorimor has set her sights on hiking the Appalachian Trail, Machu Picchu and the Pacific Coast Trail.

Skiing to the North Pole at 77

A 1990 North Pole expedition

Matti&Keti/Wikipedia


Before his death in 2017 at age 95, Jack MacKenzie led an accomplished life, making more than 30 trips across the North Atlantic during World War II to bring aircraft to Britain and later helping set up Canada's pension system. He was inspired to trek to the North Pole after hearing a talk from Canadian explorer Richard Weber. Weber first took MacKenzie into the Canadian wilderness in midwinter to make sure he could handle an Arctic trip.

A Russian helicopter took the group to the 89th parallel, where they skied one degree, the equivalent of 100 kilometers, to reach the North Pole. Weber later told the Globe and Mail that MacKenzie handled skiing over ice ridges and near open water with ease, despite the negative 30 degree temperatures. Not to be outdone, then 71-year-old Zdenĕk Chvoj from the Czech Republic became the oldest person to ski to both the North and South Pole in January 2020.

Scaling El Capitan at 70

Dierdre Wolownick began climbing to connect with her son

dierdre_wolownick_honnold/Instagram


While extreme rock climber Alex Honnold might have garnered global attention for his death-defying stunts captured in the 2018 Academy award-winning documentary "Free Solo," his mother is now making a name for herself as an age-defying climber. On her 70th birthday earlier this year, Dierdre Wolownick climbed the 3,000-foot El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in California, for the second time.

Wolownick started climbing a decade ago to better relate to her son and prepared for the climb up the granite rock face by training for 18 weeks. The former author, language teacher and musician tells the New York Times, "I learned how to suffer through all kinds of discomfort because what you get from it makes it worthwhile. It's the same for anybody who wants to follow a path of bliss. There's a lot of suffering. With climbing, you just have to deal."

Climbing Mount Everest at 80

Yuichiro Miura (right) and his son after they climbed Mount Everest in 2013

Sunil Pradhan/Xinhua/ZUMA


Japanese skier alpinist Yuichiro Miura has beaten his own Everest record three times, most recently reaching the peak of the world's highest mountain in 2013. Deemed the "grandfather of extreme skiing," Miura is the son of one of Japan's most famed skiers and made a name for himself taking on increasingly dangerous feats, first skiing down Mount Fuji in 1966 and then Everest in 1970. He skied with oxygen tanks and a parachute to slow down when he reached maximum velocity.

How does he stay calm through these life-threatening feats? Through practicing meditation to reach Mu, "a Zen-like feeling of nothingness." As Miura has gotten older, he's set his sites on traversing these mountains at a slightly slower speed, summiting Everest previously in 2003 and 2008 with his son, passing on the adventurous spirit to the next generation.

Swimming the English Channel at 73

Otto Thaning swam across the English Channel in 2014

William Cheaney/PA Wire/ZUMA


Otto Thaning, a heart surgeon from South Africa, decided to swim the approximately 21 miles separating England from the European continent to show what older people who stay in good health are capable of. While currents mean this journey often ends up being closer to 24 miles, Thaning said the hardest part was the cold waters, though he was particularly lucky to have an average temperature of a balmy 64°F the day he swam in September 2014.

It wasn't Thaning's first time across, having made the journey nearly 20 years earlier. Since Thaning's swim, Linda Ashmore, from the United Kingdom, became the oldest woman to swim across the channel at age 71 in 2018.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail at 83

Eberhart has been hiking ever since his retirement, 25 years ago.

Nimblewill Nomad


For M.J. "Sunny" Eberhart — who is from Alabama and is known by the trail name "Nimblewill Nomad" — serious hiking began after retiring as an optometrist more than 25 years ago, and hasn't slowed down since. While he's logged tens of thousands of miles, the Appalachian Trail provided a particular challenge over often precarious terrain from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, which he completed Sunday after beginning last February

"You've got to have an incredible resolve to do this," he said in an interview shortly before finishing.

Truth be told, the route was well short of the longest south-to-north journey for the aging hiker, who has previously walked 4,4000 miles from the Florida Keys to northern Quebec. He wrote about that hike in a book entitled, for anyone who's counting: Ten Million Steps.

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Pro-life and Pro-abortion Rights Protests in Washington

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Håfa adai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where new Omicron findings arrive from South Africa, abortion rights are at risk at the U.S. Supreme Court and Tyrannosaurus rex has got some new competition. From Germany, we share the story of a landmark pharmacy turned sex toy museum.

[*Chamorro - Guam]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• COVID update: South Africa reports a higher rate of reinfections from the Omicron variant than has been registered with the Beta and Delta variants, though researchers await further findings on the effects of the new strain. Meanwhile, the UK approves the use of a monoclonal therapy, known as sotrovimab, to treat those at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.The approval comes as the British pharmaceutical company, GSK, separately announced the treatment has shown to “retain activity” against the Omicron variant. Down under, New Zealand’s reopening, slated for tomorrow is being criticized as posing risks to its under-vaccinated indigenous Maori.

• Supreme Court poised to gut abortion rights: The U.S. Supreme Court signaled a willingness to accept a Republican-backed Mississippi law that would bar abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest. A ruling, expected in June, may see millions of women lose abortion access, 50 years after it was recognized as a constitutional right in the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

• Macri charged in Argentine spying case: Argentina’s former president Mauricio Macri has been charged with ordering the secret services to spy on the family members of 44 sailors who died in a navy submarine sinking in 2017. The charge carries a sentence of three to ten years in prison. Macri, now an opposition leader, says the charges are politically motivated.

• WTA suspends China tournaments over Peng Shuai: The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) announced the immediate suspension of all tournaments in China due to concerns about the well-being of Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, and the safety of other players. Peng disappeared from public view after accusing a top Chinese official of sexual assault.

• Michigan school shooting suspect to be charged as an adult: The 15-year-old student accused of killing four of his classmates and wounding seven other people in a Michigan High School will face charges of terrorism and first-degree murder. Authorities say the suspect had described wanting to attack the school in cellphone videos and a journal.

• Turkey replaces finance minister amid economic turmoil: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan appointed a strong supporter of his low-interest rate drive, Nureddin Nebati, as Turkey’s new finance minister.

• A battle axe for a tail: Chilean researchers announced the discovery of a newly identified dinosaur species with a completely unique feature from any other creatures that lived at that time: a flat, weaponized tail resembling a battle axe.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

South Korean daily Joong-ang Ilbo reports on the discovery of five Omicron cases in South Korea. The Asian nation has broken its daily record for overall coronavirus infections for a second day in a row with more than 5,200 new cases. The variant cases were linked to arrivals from Nigeria and prompted the government to tighten border controls.


#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

¥10,000

In the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin, a reward of 10,000 yuan ($1,570) will be given to anyone who volunteers to take a COVID-19 test and get a positive result, local authorities announced on Thursday on the social network app WeChat.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Why an iconic pharmacy is turning into a sex toy museum

The "New Pharmacy" was famous throughout the St. Pauli district of Hamburg for its history and its long-serving owner. Now the owner’s daughter is transforming it into a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys, linking it with the past "curing" purpose of the shop, reports Eva Eusterhus in German daily Die Welt.

💊 The story begins in autumn 2018, when 83-year-old Regis Genger stood at the counter of her pharmacy and realized that the time had come for her to retire. At least that is the first thing her daughter Anna Genger tells us when we meet, describing the turning point that has also shaped her life and that of her business partner Bianca Müllner. The two women want to create something new here, something that reflects the pharmacy's history and Hamburg's eclectic St. Pauli quarter (it houses both a red light district and the iconic Reeperbahn entertainment area) as well as their own interests.

🚨 Over the last few months, the pharmacy has been transformed into L'Apotheque, a venture that brings together art and business in St. Pauli's red light district. The back rooms will be used for art exhibitions, while the old pharmacy space will house a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys. Genger and Müllner want to show that desire has always existed and that people have always found inventive ways of maximizing pleasure, even in times when self-gratification was seen as unnatural and immoral, as a cause of deformities.

🏩 Genger and Müllner want the museum to show how the history of desire has changed over time. The art exhibitions, which will also center on the themes of physicality and sexuality, are intended to complement the exhibits. They are planning to put on window displays to give passers-by a taste of what is to come, for example, British artist Bronwen Parker-Rhodes's film Lovers, which offers a portrait of sex workers during lockdown.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"I would never point a gun at anyone and pull a trigger at them. Never."

— U.S. actor Alec Baldwin spoke to ABC News, his first interview since the accident that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust last October. The actor said that although he was holding the gun he didn’t pull the trigger, adding that the bullet “wasn't even supposed to be on the property.”

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet and Jane Herbelin

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