93-year-old Oakland man becomes oldest to climb Yosemite's Half Dome

Last week, a 93-year-old Oakland man became the oldest known climber to conquer Yosemite's Half Dome.

Alongside his son, and 19-year-old granddaughter Sidney, Everett Kalin climbed one of the world's most iconic structures Tuesday. Sidney shared the accomplishment on TikTok.

With scraped knees and a big smile on his face, video shows his final steps to the top as family holds his hand. Behind him a line of people wait to take in the panoramic views of Yosemite National Park.

"Words cannot describe how proud I am," wrote Sidney Kalin. "Opa, it was an honor to take on this trip with you. I hope this stands as a lesson to everyone that you are never too young or old to achieve your dreams."

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Everett Kalin, a 93-year-old Oakland resident who scaled Yosemite's Half Dome last week. He's the oldest known climber to accomplish this stunning feat. (Photo courtesy Sidney Kalin who is pictured with her grandfather.) 

During the ascent, there are several hundred feet of rock stairs, and a final pitch up the peak's steep but somewhat rounded face. There are post-mounted steel cables to assist climbers in that last stretch.

"Slowly but surely, we got up to the top," Everett said. "And when we finally did get to the top that was just a thrill. That was a great thrill. I think the three of us found a rock, sat on it, and cried a little."

Everett said he trained for Half Dome by climbing up and down flights of stairs in his 17-story building at his Senior Living facility off Piedmont Avenue. He also walked around Lake Merritt five days a week. He admits he didn’t fully realize what he was getting himself into, and how steep and slick parts of the hike would be.

Everett said, "It was at first strenuous, and I didn’t realize how far forward I had to lean to get some momentum and balance."

CALIFORNIA, USA - OCTOBER 23: Half Dome view in Yosemite National Park of California, United States on October 23, 2022. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Named for its distinct shape, Half Dome is a difficult climb for even the most seasoned hikers. It was labeled "perfectly inaccessible" before someone reached the peak in 1875, according to the California Geological Survey.

"It was like the entire mountain was rooting for him," said his son Jon, who lives in Danville. Jon said people on the trail cheered for them as they made the grueling hike. "He’s super stubborn which is one of the reasons I think he got to the top because he just never wanted to stop," said Jon.

To make sure Everett was safe, they hooked him up to a harness. "We had a carabiner so we could clip him in to the cables," said Jon.

"It was exhausting, but the exhilaration keeps you going," said Everett.

Everett had been to Yosemite many times before, but never climbed Half Dome until now. The thrill-seeking senior went skydiving when he was 91, and said he was inspired by his own mother who continued being active into her late 90s.

The hike from camp, to the summit, and back took the Kalins 13 and a half hours. It was not an easy feat, but they hope Everett’s story might inspire others to aim high, and know it’s never too late to try something new.

"For three generations of us to be there together and have a mountain of people cheering for us," Jon said, "it was unbelievable emotion."

Photos courtesy of Sidney Kalin.