You’re never too old to accomplish something great. Just ask 92-year-old Alfredo Aliaga, who set a record for being the oldest person to complete the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim hike.
Let’s look at Aliaga’s accomplishment, what inspired him to take the 24-mile trek, and details on the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim hike if you want to tackle it yourself.
Alfredo Aliaga, 92, is now the oldest person to hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim.
Alfredo Aliaga was born in Spain and has lived in Germany since his late 20s. He and his late wife, Ingrid, had hiked the Grand Canyon before, as per USA Today. Soon after Ingrid died of ALS in 2006, Aliaga returned to hike one of their favorite places in her memory.
According to USA Today, Aliaga has returned to hike the Grand Canyon so many times he is well-known to the park rangers and other hikers. So, when he decided to try to break a Guinness World Record for the oldest person to complete the rim-to-rim hike, his son-in-law Jurgen Buchenau put a call out to fellow R2R hikers on the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim Club Facebook group.
“We'd love to document what we hope will be an awesome achievement. Aliaga last completed a R2R last year when he was 91 and has been hiking in the canyon five times in the last four years, so he's going to be ready for this!” Buchenau wrote in a Sept. 26, 2023, Facebook post.
And turn out they did! Fellow hikers on the path cheered Aliaga on and took pictures and videos of him to share his achievement with the world, reported USA Today. Aliaga was joined on the hike by his daughter Anabel Buchenau, son-in-law Jurgen, and hikers Julian Coiner and Peter Todd, who both volunteered to serve as witnesses to Aliaga’s accomplishment.
Aliaga completed the hike on Oct. 15, 2023, after trekking for 21 hours over two days, as per USA Today. He and his witnesses now need to submit the details of his hike to Guinness World Records to get an official world record, which could take up to four months, according to USA Today. The current record for being the oldest person to hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim is held by the late John Jepkema, a Colorado man who was 91 years old when he completed the hike in 2019.
The Grand Canyon rim-to-rim hike is 24 miles long — here's what you need to know.
According to the National Parks Foundation, the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim hike is a strenuous 24-mile trek that less than 1 percent of Grand Canyon visitors have accomplished. While people of all ages (92 and under, at least) have successfully hiked the trail, park officials recommend hikers start training at least a year before their planned trek.
The recommended R2R route is from North Kaibab Trail on the North Rim to Bright Angel Trail. On the North Kaibab Trail, you’ll descend to the bottom of the canyon, before you climb up the Bright Angel Trail South Rim, per the National Parks Foundation website. The R2R hike usually takes between 12 and 15 hours to complete, per RimtoRim.org.