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To Oldest Mountain Guide, 88 Is Great

January 24, 1988|EVA NOVAK | Associated Press

ZERMATT, Switzerland — At 74, Ulrich Inderbinen had his first dental appointment. At 82, he entered his first ski race, and at 84 he made his last ascent of Mont Blanc, Europe's highest mountain.

He has just turned 88 and is still climbing 12,000-foot peaks four times a week as a guide for less-experienced and much younger climbers.

Inderbinen is Switzerland's oldest mountain guide--and possibly the oldest in Europe.

He has scaled the 14,690-foot Matterhorn 300 times in the last six decades. But in 1982, he struck that famous Swiss landmark from his schedule for fear that it could be too dangerous for his clients.

"I am taking it a little easier," he said. "But I will continue in my job as long as I can."

That job began for the son of a small mountain farmer at age 24, when he got his license and joined some 100 other guides vying for customers at this then-fledgling resort.

"Life was not simple then," he said. "You had to be lucky to get two tours a week. Now, it's still four climbs a week during the season if the weather is good."

He has not missed a season. But he did take time off once in his 63 years on the mountains when he was grounded for 10 days by a shoulder injury suffered when he slipped on an icy path.

"I have never felt bored," he said. "That is unless my clients walk too slowly. But I must add that now I am glad if it's not going too fast."

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