Martin and Esther Kafer have been climbing together for over 60 years and on October 1st they broke the World Record for the oldest male and female to reach the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. 85-year-old Martin Kafer and 84-year-old Esther Kafer made the climb along with 9 other members of the 2012 Ascent for Alzheimer’s team. The team raised over $200,000 for the Alzheimer Society of BC.
Alzheimer’s is a cause close to the Kafer’s heart as Martin’s sister suffers from dementia and can no longer even remember her own name. Despite arthritis, two hip replacements and numerous dangerous and sometimes life-threatening incidents while climbing, the Kafers were determined to challenge the current record and bring awareness to the cause.
To stay fit the Vancouver couple hikes three times a week and downhill skis twice a week during the winter. They started climbing together in the 1950s and spent their honeymoon climbing the Materhorn. Martin helped found the Federation of Mountain Clubs of B.C. and they are joint honorary presidents of the B.C. Mountaineering Club.
Martin explains his longevity secret, “I feel great. You gotta keep going, you know. You don’t stop halfway there. If you’re going to keep yourself alive, you have to do the things you like.” Their advice for others is, ““Be active all of the time, eat well, use your arms your legs and your head. Most of all your head. Take every day as a bonus day.”