LEESBURG, Fla. - With just a few faded bruises still on his leg and a smile on his face, Dr. Bill Weber, 91, while sitting in his chair from his Leesburg home, said he climbed Wyoming's Devils Tower not only to break the record as the oldest person to reach the top, but to make lasting memories with his two sons.
Weber thought of the idea back in February, when he saw an article posted in the National Parks Magazine that showed an 87-year-old man broke the record, and he decided to take on the challenge of breaking it for his 91st birthday in September.
"I said I think we can do that," Weber said to his two sons, both 63 and 58 years old. "I said we ought to have one last adventure and the three of us go and climb Devils Tower."
So in May, Weber began training.
The 91-year-old already exercises at least 30 minutes a day for five days a week, but to prepare for the climb, he added a minute and a push-up a month to his daily routine.
"That's it, 34 minutes a day, five days a week," Weber said as he walked on his treadmill on an incline and at a nearly jogging pace.
The three got to Wyoming days before Weber's 91st birthday, and did a practice climb that Weber said didn't go so well.
According to the National Park Service, Devils Tower rises 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River in Wyoming and in 1906, was made as America's first national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt.
From the base to the top, Weber said it was 867 feet.
"I thought I don't know whether I can do this or not because it was really hard work," he said.
Weber's son, John Weber, also had doubts after that practice climb.
"I thought, 'Well, we got three outcomes, we aren't going to do it, it's going to kill him or we are going to do it,"' he said.
After a day of rest, the three then took their first climb up the cracks at 8 a.m. They reached the top nearly 12 hours later at 7:40 p.m. Weber said they then had to rappel down, landing their feet on the ground around 10:30 p.m..
"John, the morning after the climb, he looked at me and looked at his brother and said 'That's the dumbest thing I've ever done in my life.' I said, "Yeah but son wasn't it memorable?'" Weber said.
For this 91-year-old retired veterinarian, it wasn't just about breaking records. It was about making memories.
"There were several but one that sticks in my mind was up on top shivering on the mountain and my older son took off his jacket and gave it to me to wear down the mountain," Weber said as tears welled up in his eyes. "That was quite memorable."
And when asked if he'd do it again?
"I think I would, I don't know. If a 92-year-old does it, we might have to go back and try it at 93," Weber said laughing and looking at his son, "You're ready, John?"
John replied: "If he thinks he's going to do it at 93, I think we're going to duct tape his feet together."
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