100-Club members still going up the hill | PostIndependent.com

100-Club members still going up the hill

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

The saying goes that it’s not the age, it’s the mileage.Members of the 100 Club might argue that it isn’t the mileage, either. Far from it, it’s the mileage that’s helping keep them young for their ages.Club members pile up hundreds of miles on hiking and climbing trips each year, and it may help explain why some of them are still charging up mountains while well into their 80s.Hal Sundin organizes the club’s summer hiking schedule. Though he turned 80 this year, he’s still a relative youngster compared to some club members. Sundin said he hopes to be able to keep up on the trails with George Wear, a retired brigadier general who turns 87 this year.Sundin is no slouch himself. Having climbed all of Colorado 54 14,000-foot peaks when he was younger, he has helped lead group members up numerous Fourteeners, and is planning more ascents this summer. Last year he tallied more than 250 miles and many thousands of feet of vertical gain and loss, sometimes on boulder fields – and all on a new artificial hip.

Members of the 100 Club aren’t ones to rest much; they keep physically active all year-round. The club originally was formed in 1990 by Tom and Olly Sherman as a way to get seniors together each week to ski at Sunlight Mountain Resort. The name comes from the club’s eligibility requirement: A participating couple’s ages must total at least 100; singles must be at least 50.The following year, Sundin proposed organizing hiking trips for the skiing off-season. Sixteen years later, the club offers about 40 hikes each year. Over the years, participants have joined in nearly 400 hikes in Colorado and eastern Utah, and climbed 26 Fourteeners.Five of the club members are octogenarians. Besides Sundin and Wear, they include Jitter Nolen, Doris Shettel and club co-founder Olly Sherman (co-founder Tom Sherman has passed away). Together, the five’s total combined mileage exceeds 11,400 miles.By comparison, some far-younger newcomers to the club joined as novices. Sundin said a member who has logged 1,000 miles in the club told him she had never hiked before in her life.The adventures offered by the 100 Club might be enough to make some people look forward to reaching their 50s. Sundin said the club doesn’t check the IDs of would-be members. “We just kind of ask them if they really qualify,” he said.He said the club has been known to grant “special dispensation” to a few members who were a year or year-and-a-half short of being eligible to join.

The club held its second hike of the season on Monday, on the Colorow Trail in New Castle. One group did the length of the trail, while more ambitious hikers extended their trip by continuing off-trail to the East Elk Creek Road.The club occasionally offers harder and easier alternatives on some of its outings. But many of the hikes are out-and-back trips, and people have the option of turning around wherever they want. Fifty-five joined in the New Castle hike, but Sundin said club members tend to stretch out along the trail during outings.”People go at their own pace as far as they want to and have their lunch and turn back,” he said.The group members carry radios to stay in contact, for safety’s sake, but also encourage people to take their own precautions.”We try to educate people about being aware of their surroundings and looking out for themselves, not just following the herds,” he said.

The group holds tailgate picnics after their hikes so everyone can gather back together and socialize.Sundin likes both the adventure and the camaraderie of the outings.”It’s the places we go, which is always fun, and the people we go with which makes it a joy,” he said.Some of this summer’s more ambitious outings including doing overnight trips to climb Fourteeners around Lake City, and hike in the Trappers Lake area, Crested Butte and Ouray.The group goes out each Monday, and for much of the summer also does trips every other Wednesday.The 100 Club has nearly 400 members from Aspen to Battlement Mesa. Members also join in activities including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, biking, four-wheeling, tennis, golf and bridge.

Hiking and climbing remain Sundin’s chief interests. He speaks with pride about 23 people summiting Uncompahgre Peak several years ago, and 22 reaching the top of another Fourteener, Handies.He also relishes the memory of the stunned reaction of some teenagers whom group members saw as they were summiting Mount Wilson, yet another Fourteener.”They couldn’t believe we all came up that mountain,” Sundin said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. 516dwebb@postindependent.com

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