Written by By Tierney Fitzpatrick, CNN
When Sheryl Kelley became the world’s oldest female climber on Everest in 1998, at the age of 58, she had the knack for dealing with the daunting task.
But when she hiked the dizzying cliffs of El Capitan in California this week, the only thing she was looking for was a good story.
“I wanted to do something completely outrageous, something totally out of the ordinary,” said Kelley, who celebrated her 70th birthday on Tuesday.
Fresh off climbing Africa’s highest mountain in Africa this year, Kelley decided to announce her birthday by climbing El Capitan, a name that conjures up images of folks finding joy and victory.
“I wanted to be able to tell somebody that I stood on El Capitan and celebrated my 70th birthday,” she said.
“I don’t do anything tasteless,” she said. “My climb is an accomplishment.”
Kelley’s photograph of her high in the world, at a line that is about a mile and a half up from the base camp, is part of a new Instagram account.
“I love to shake things up,” she said. “I wanted to do something out of the ordinary, something that people didn’t expect. It seemed like a natural extension of how I grew up.”
Her preparation for the climb was similar to that of her Everest effort.
She didn’t go to prep schools or attend athletics camps. But she did develop a core of dedication and dedication she sticks to to this day.
“Everyone wants to do something different,” she said. “For me, it’s about winning, keeping results and forging my own path.”