Meet Esther and Martin, oldest couple to climb Mount Kilimanjaro

At 84 and 85 years old, these super Zoomers from Vancouver are the oldest couple known to have climbed Africa’s highest mountain.

Esther and Martin Kafer wanted to help raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society after witnessing Martin’s sister suffer from dementia that progressed at a rapid pace.  So they embarked on a journey of a lifetime, climbing 19,341 feet to the top of the Tanzanian mountain.

“Each time we visit Martin’s sister we are overwhelmed by the telling signs of the rapid rate her dementia is advancing,” they told the Alzheimer Society, saying she is “reduced to incoherent words… a sad hulk of a mind” and needs 24-hour care. This, after spending her career working as a researcher and McGill professor.

The Kafers have spent their almost 60 year marriage travelling the world, skiing, climbing mountains, and looking for adventure, so it comes as no surprise that they would take on such a challenge at this point in their lives.

“Esther and Martin’s achievement epitomizes the spirit of the Ascent for Alzheimer’s event, which is that no matter how challenging the journey there is support. The Kafers did this as a couple, and with their 2012 Ascent for Alzheimer’s team every step of the way, reached the summit of Africa’s tallest mountain and have raised awareness of the Society and our cause to whole new heights,” Alzheimer Society of B.C. CEO Jean Blake said on their website.

The couple, who describes themselves as “old timer mountaineers and life-long outdoor enthusiasts”, immigrated to Canada from Switzerland back in 1954, when Martin, an engineer, was looking for international work experience. Esther’s work as a travel agent ensured they were able to travel all around the world, reaching the top of some 500 different mountains.

When asked by Canadian Achievers what their advice is for those living sedentary lives, they replied, “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.” Martin enthusiastically added that he plans “to die on my ski’s…twenty years from now.”

Their climb raised more than $24,000 for the cause, helping bring the total fundraising to $310,000.

Sources: Alzheimer Society B.C, Canadian Achievers, Huffington Post

Photo ©Alzheimer’s Society of B.C

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