Alfredo Aliaga, a 92-year-old man from Berlin, Germany, has broken the record for the oldest person to hike rim-to-rim across the Grand Canyon.
The renowned 24-mile Rim-to-Rim hike with over 10,000 feet of elevation change is considered one of the toughest trails in the National Park system. Fewer than 1% of the park’s visitors attempt the lengthy, strenuous trek each year. At Aliaga’s advanced age, completing the hike is an exceptional achievement.
Aliaga, who was born in Spain, has a PhD in geology and a lifelong passion for exploring national parks. After losing his wife in 2006, he started revisiting places they had traveled to together, including the Grand Canyon. Since then, he has returned to hike the canyon several times.
According to his daughter Anabel Aliaga-Buchenau and son-in-law Jurgen Buchenau, Aliaga hiked the Rim-to-Rim with them in both 2019 and 2021. After their last hike, Buchenau researched the age record for the trail and found that Aliaga had just missed beating it by three months on their previous attempt. Intrigued, Aliaga began training by walking for three hours daily around his Berlin neighborhood.
The trio planned to try breaking the record this past spring but had to postpone due to snow and trail closures on the North Rim. Finally, in mid-October they set out to tackle the challenge. Despite worries about potential dangers, Aliaga managed the rugged, precipitous trail at a measured pace. He even paused for photos with admiring fans along the way.
After hiking for 21 strenuous hours over two days, Aliaga reached the North Rim, completing the rim-to-rim journey. His son-in-law had announced the record attempt on Facebook and received thousands of reactions. Nearly 100 people gathered to cheer the elder hiker as he emerged from the canyon.
Pending verification from Guinness World Records, Aliaga has claimed the record for the oldest person to hike rim-to-rim across the Grand Canyon. At age 92 years and 152 days, he has surpassed the previous record holder, John Jempka, who finished the hike at age 91 years and 152 days.
Aliaga’s extraordinary achievement demonstrates that physical fitness aspirations can be realized at any age. His accomplishment will no doubt inspire others to challenge their limits. For Aliaga, the rim-to-rim hike was a deeply meaningful quest to return to a landscape he explored with his late wife. At 92 years old, he has now etched his name in the Grand Canyon’s storied history.
Cover photo courtesy of: Simon Morris