Gay hiking

This gay couple climbed 65 mountains in one year to celebrate their 65th birthday / LGBTQ Nation

Ben Berg and Larry Welsman while climbing Mount Baldy in April 2021Photo: provided by Ben Berg and Larry Welsman

Canadian couple Ben Berg and Larry Welsman have always been adventurers.

In the 25 years they have been together, they have spent their free time hiking, climbing mountains, biking and traveling to remote places.

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As they became more adept as hikers, they realized it was something they could do all year round, not just in the summer months. So they decided it was time to do something big.

In 2021, the year Berg turned 65, Berg and Welsman set out to climb 65 peaks over 650 meters (about 2,100 feet).

The project started last January and often required them to climb several mountains a week. In June, July and August alone, they hit 36 ​​highs. In September, they peaked at 65.

Berg likes to set big goals and said LGBTQ Nation that “hiking or doing anything with a purpose only adds to the experience”.

But for him, this project had a more important purpose than simply achieving his goals for himself. He also hopes his story will show young LGBTQ people what life can be like when they’re older. That hope is part of what inspired the couple to keep a video diary of their climbs and post them on YouTube.

“It gets better, Berg said, “You can make a life for yourself. You can pursue your passions, whatever they are.

Berg said many young LGBTQ people find it hard to believe they’ll ever grow old, and he hopes her story and that of her husband show that it’s possible to not just survive, but thrive.

As part of their trip, Berg and Welsman also took pictures of rainbow flags waving at the peaks to celebrate gay visibility in the hiking community, which Berg says is sorely lacking.

Berg and Welsman photographed this rainbow flag atop Indian Head Mountain, also known as Chisel Peak Provided by Ben Berg and Larry Welsman

“I was proud that it could maybe open the eyes of the wider community that gay people aren’t just what you might think they are,” he said.

For Berg, it also meant the world that he and Welsman took on this challenge together.

He says it’s rare to see couples of any sexuality walking together. Many people they meet on the trails are single or have partners they left at home.

“I think all the things that make this achievement unique are not just that I’m over 65 or that we’ve climbed eight Mounts Everest in one year,” he said. “I think it’s also because we did it as a couple.”

When they finally reached that 65th peak – Mount Richardson in Alberta – Berg said the overwhelming feeling was relief. Nevertheless, they managed to celebrate by traveling to New York and climbing another mountain, Wright Peak.

“So we held 66 summits,” Berg said.

Since then, however, the couple have taken a well-deserved break, still taking walks every day but letting their bodies rest from the demanding nature of the mountains.

Berg wants people to know that climbing these mountains takes a lot of experience, skill and knowledge – and just because he’s 65 doesn’t mean anyone can do it.

“Mountains are inherently dangerous,” he warned, “and you need to be prepared for as many eventualities as possible.”

While Berg and Welsman steered clear of any technical climbing, their treks were always incredibly difficult and often involved something called scrambling, which is when you have to use your hands and feet to climb steep sections. of the trail. There is also weather, mapping and so many other challenges to expect and be prepared for.

That being said, Berg believes in exploring your passions with the right time and hard work. This effort, he stressed, is essential to achieving your goals.

“The mountains did not come to us,” he says. “We had to go to the mountains.