Etcetera - 09/22/11

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Even as I write, parttime area resident Richard Byerley may be en route to or already climbing Africa's highest peak.

The 84-year-old wants to go where no one else his age has gone before and summit Mount Kilimanjaro.

Oh, and earn a listing in Guinness World Records as the oldest person to summit the peak on foot. The 19,340-foot mountain is in northeastern Tanzania, near Kenya.

His grandchildren, Annie, 29, and Bren, 24, will accompany him on the six-day trek on the Machame Route late this month.

Once they've completed their climbing adventure, they plan to go on a two-day safari at Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.

Richard divides his time between Sun Valley, Idaho, and Walla Walla, where he owns an alfalfa farm.

He's been training for this trip by hiking mountains here and in Idaho, bicycling, running and occasionally moving 40-pound pipes in the fields on his farm.

He already bagged the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states at 14,495 feet -- Mount Whitney in California -- and 14,411-foot Mount Rainier in Washington.

He also stays in shape with skiing, a pastime he took up 44 years ago. As avid sailors, he and wife Beth have journeyed from Seattle to Tahiti on their 50-foot boat.

Beth reached Kilimanjaro's summit 30 years ago, so Richard figures "it's high time to catch up."

His attempt to summit Kilimanjaro will be documented by Robin Paschall, founder of Adventures Within Reach and a tour operator based in Boulder, Colo., that specializes in customized adventures.

Richard won the Adventures Within Reach trip at a charity auction for the Galena Lodge, near Sun Valley.

The climbers expect good weather this time of year and their route yields a high success rate.

"The route offers a continuous scenic show, but to top it off, Richard and his grandkids will be summiting right before a full moon, which will reveal a brilliant night sky," Robin said in a release.

Currently a retired British professor is the oldest Guinness World Records holder to summit Kilimanjaro on foot, which he did at 82 in 2010.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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