Calgary couple hiked 65 summits in 2021
There are climbers who tackle more mountains in a year or even more technical climbs but Ben Berg and Larry Welsman wanted to hike 65 summits in the year Berg turned 65 and they did it.
"We started in January with hike number one at Yates Mountain, Prairie View and then ended in the end of September in Lake Louise with Mount Richardson," said Berg.
They walked over 825 kilometres in horizontal distance over the 65 hikes, gaining 73 kilometres in combined elevation. The couple says the elevation gain is like going from sea level to the top of Mount Everest eight times.
"Years ago when I started hiking with Ben, I thought I was gonna have a heart attack if I tried to climb a mountain," said Welsman. "I didn't and we started low and slow, just do one kilometre, maybe next time we'll do a kilometre and a half, two kilometers and build yourself up slowly."
The two say they stayed away from technical climbs where ropes and harnesses are needed. Most of their summits were hikes and some involved scrambling, a technique where hands are used to assist a climber along with their feet.
"If you can walk you can hike," said Welsman. "And you don't have to race to the top of the mountain you go as slowly as you want."
The couple is retired and some months they would hike up to six summits but in the summer they doubled that.
"We had to commit because you have to keep up that pace of doing 12 summits (each month of) June, July, August," said Berg. "You have to sort of rearrange your life, even if you're not working."
The avid hikers say even if they've already climbed a mountain, a second trip can reveal new challenges and views.
"We have a lot of favorite hikes that we do every year and it's always a little bit different every time," said Welsman. "Or there's a slightly different version of the same hike whereas there's a second or third trail that goes up the same summit but it's a different route."
The two received a lot of support for their adventure on social media from the hiking community.
"But I think for me, what I felt best about is that I could do it with my partner with my husband," said Berg.
Berg and Welsman are also fans of exploring Canada, all of it. In 2019 they realized they'd visited ten provinces and two territories, needing only one more. Last year they reached their goal by visiting the Yukon.
"I feel almost better about that than about the 65 summits," said Berg. "Like I think if you ask people how many Canadians have actually been to all ten provinces and three territories, I don't think there's lots."
The two will continue to climb in 2022, but not quite as much.
They recorded each of their 65 climbs that can be seen online:
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