Episode 34: Legacy and Purpose: Breaking Age Barriers with Anne Lorimor

about the episode

Anne Lorimor is not your typical great-grandmother sitting in her rocking chair. At age 85, Anne broke the record for being the oldest woman to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Her record was soon broken, so at age 89, she returned to the mountain to reclaim the record.

In July of 2019, she became the oldest person to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, giving her a place in the 2020 Guinness Book of World Records.

Anne is a goal setting achiever at heart. She holds numerous degrees, including an RN, “as a backup career choice,” and never stops pushing her limits to achieve what others see as impossible.

But Anne doesn’t just shatter records for her own ego. She comes from a childhood of poverty and homelessness, and because of her background she has motivation to give back to children who are in similar circumstances. With her deep desire to give youth the tools to reach their full potential and encourage them to pay it forward, she founded Lorimor Child Empowerment Foundation: Creating Exciting Futures in 2016. Her charity works to provide opportunities for education and better options for children in underserved areas.

Episode Transcript

Anne Lorimor: Climbing a mountain is just putting one foot in front of the other. And someone had given me a quote from St. Francis Assisi, said, "First you do what's possible, then you do the difficult, and then finally you've accomplished the impossible." I just thought, "Yes, I'm going to do it."

Erik Weihenmayer: It's easy to talk about the successes, but what doesn't get talked about enough is the struggle. My name is Erik Weihenmayer. I've gotten the chance to ascend Mount Everest, to climb the tallest mountain in every continent, to kayak the Grand Canyon, and I happen to be blind. It's been a struggle to live what I call a no-barriers life. To define it, to push the parameters of what it means. And part of the equation is diving into the learning process and trying to illuminate the universal elements that exist along the way. And that unexplored terrain between those dark places we find ourselves in in the summit exists a map. That map, that way forward is what we call No Barriers.

Erik Weihenmayer: Today, we meet Anne Lorimor, who is not your typical great grandmother sitting in her rocking chair. At age 85, Anne broke the record for being the oldest woman to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest freestanding mountain in the world. Her record was soon broken. So at age 89, she returned to the mountain to reclaim the record. In July of 2019, she became the oldest person to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, giving her a place in the 2020 Guinness Book of World Records. Coming from a childhood of poverty and homelessness, Anne founded Lorimor Child Empowerment Foundation, also known as Creating Exciting Futures, in 2016. Her desire is to give youth the tools to reach their full potential and encourage them to pay it forward. Enjoy the conversation.

Erik Weihenmayer: Everyone, welcome to No Barriers. Jeff, you just got back from Nepal last night. Huh?

Jeff: I did, yep. I'm not going to lie. I probably will not be the most spirited person in the conversation, but I just had an amazing family trip to ...

Erik Weihenmayer: You were delivering stows. Right? To [crosstalk 00:02:32] villages?

Jeff: We were. You know, you and I have been all over Nepal, but we went to a place that I'd never been, which was far, far west. It took us two days to get there. As any good journey, getting there is sometimes the hardest part. So it took us several days to get there. Then we went to this little community. They're not used to seeing people that are from other parts. And we did some good work there and made a lot of new friends. So pretty happy to be back. And I guess this is the first time we've spoken to you since your triumphant return up [inaudible 00:03:08].

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah. We tried a peak in 2000, [inaudible 00:03:11], and fell short. Spent, what, a week at 20 thousand feet trying to enjoy the storm. So we actually ran out of food and fuel and came down the mountain. And one of the guys on the mountain climb fell and so the climb quickly turned from a fun adventure to a rescue mission. So anyway, yeah, we just went back last month after, what, 19 years of a hiatus. We went back and made it to the top of [inaudible 00:03:47], 22,450 feet or something like that. So we had a cold, windy, clear, satisfying day at that altitude. So it's a perfect segue into our amazing guest, Anne Lorimor, who is also a mountain climber. Anne, welcome to the No Barriers Podcast.

Anne Lorimor: Thank you. I'm glad to be here.

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah. Congratulations on your big climbs.

Anne Lorimor: Well, I do get to claim the Guinness World Record for the oldest person to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Jeff: Twice, right?

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah. You're crazy enough to do it twice, not to just be satisfied with a one-time ascent, but actually coming back and doing it again. Right?

Anne Lorimor: Well, I was beaten out of my title as oldest woman at about four months the first time. And I didn't think that would do since I was doing it for my charity.

Jeff: Well, all right. So you sound like a competitive spirit. So what happens next? Is this still just a running competition in your mind? Are you keeping an eye on things?

Erik Weihenmayer: Is there somebody on your tail ready to beat you and you're going to have to go back a third time now?

Anne Lorimor: I don't know. When I was there, a guide came to see me at my hotel after I got back and he said, "You know, I want my picture with you. It was my client that had the record before." He said, "And I'm going to take you when you're 100."

Erik Weihenmayer: Nice. Oh, that's impressive.

Jeff: So did we mention the age? Or I can't remember.

Anne Lorimor: I was 89, the oldest woman and the oldest person to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Erik Weihenmayer: Obvious question, then. Have you always been a mountain climber or how did you get this idea to climb Kilimanjaro the first time?

Anne Lorimor: I'm not a professional. I never have been, but I've loved climbing since I was a little girl. I lived up in northern New Mexico at seven thousand feet with mountains all around us and I used to climb. And then in high school, I read Snows of Kilimanjaro. And I just always [inaudible 00:05:50] wonderful place, but only about, I don't know, seven years ago did I decide ... My nephew and niece were going to climb Kilimanjaro and I said, "Well, let me go with you." I thought they'd laugh at me and they said, "Sure." And so then an organization I belong to has a member who's the oldest person to have climbed all of the seven summits. And he was leading a group up to Kilimanjaro. So I said, "Hey. He'll know what older people need for climbs. I'm going with him." And that was the one. The interesting thing was, I just was going to be an old person climbing for charity, but then he put it off a year and then I was the oldest woman to climb.

Erik Weihenmayer: That was at, like, 85. Right? Or something like that.

Anne Lorimor: Right, yeah. 2015.

Jeff: Which was harder, 85 or 89?

Anne Lorimor: 85 would've been harder because I didn't do any core training. I just walked and climbed. But I fell in a safari just before I climbed this time and I had a lot of pain and I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to do it. So I made them text my oxygen in the middle of the night and I passed and I said, "Okay, I'm going." But it hurt all the way. So it was harder. Then I came home, found that I had three broken ribs.

Jeff: Wow. [inaudible 00:07:04] You're a straight up stud, Anne. I mean, you're 89 years old. How many more little pieces of adversity can you stack up on you to be able to do it? So you had broken ribs, you're 89 years old, and you'd already done it once before so you knew what you were getting into.

Anne Lorimor: Knew how hard it was. Yes.

Jeff: Yeah. So you knew what you were getting into and you still said, "I'm going to keep firing away." You knew how hard that summit night was going to be.

Anne Lorimor: Well, I had a film crew along. They're doing a documentary. And when I was there, I thought, "I've got to make this. Too many people are counting on me. Nobody wants a documentary of a failed climb." So I made myself do it.

Erik Weihenmayer: How was the summit day? Was it pretty long? Was it pretty hard?

Anne Lorimor: It was pretty long. We actually didn't do it in the middle of the night, the way we did before. And this time, I had plenty of warm clothing. Before, I had enough layers but it wasn't warm enough. This time, I did not get cold at all. I was fine there. So other than the pain, I was doing just fine.

Erik Weihenmayer: And you're from Phoenix. Right? So you're not used to cold weather.

Anne Lorimor: Exactly. I had gone up northern Arizona. They've got some seven thousand, nine thousand feet up there and I'd got a little bit of acclimatization before I went.

Jeff: Well, Eric and I have both spent a fair bit of time on Kili and people underestimate that hill. They always do and I always tell people, "I don't care how good you are." I've taken a lot of veterans up that mountain and I had a Seal Team Six guy. Like, a Team Six guy. Right? Who, on summit night, said it was one of the hardest things he had ever done, that summit night going up there. People underestimate it. I mean, for you to have done it twice, clearly you're a glutton for punishment and you seem to enjoy ... You enjoy a little bit of suffering, I imagine.

Anne Lorimor: I wouldn't say that, but I can take hardship because I grew up that way. And my cause is very important. I founded Creating Exciting Futures to help kids that don't know their options know them and get the tools to go where they really want to go and give back. It's very important to me. I guess I am a little competitive, as well.

Erik Weihenmayer: So did that nonprofit, that foundation, come out of the climbing or the climbing came out of the foundation? Which comes first?

Anne Lorimor: I have been helping kids all my life. It was a three-generation thing with my family. So I was always doing something with kids. Family Promise, which is transitional homeless. Rose's House, Music Academy for Children, a lot of other things. Youth at Risk. I was a mentor for a little girl for about 15 years, when she was six until she was 21. And so I was always working at it. But when I did the climb, I right away decided I wanted to do it to help the cause.

Erik Weihenmayer: And Lorimor Child Empowerment Foundation, is that connected with what you were just talking about?

Anne Lorimor: We do business as Creating Exciting Futures. I'd like, eventually, to have a real endowment fund that will be able to operate off the proceeds from it. So even in bad years, I can keep helping the kids. In good years, I can help a lot more.

Erik Weihenmayer: And what does it mean to help them build the tools and stuff like that? Beyond the mission, what are some of the cool things that have come out of that work?

Anne Lorimor: Let me tell you about some of the programs. For one thing, I give them scholarships to Teen Feast. And that's a youth program of CEO Space International. They learn things like networking and brainstorming and they get mentors they'll have for life. They'll have business connections for life. They get to have meals with faculty. They have a membership in the CEO space for the rest of their lives. And I've just seen them. Everyone that's every gone has just been over the moon at the end of a session.

Anne Lorimor: And one of them, for example, was a kid that ... He said to me, when I asked his big brother to recommend him, he said, "My family never wins anything." But we selected him. He went there and he had a fabulous time. He has been cooking since he was six years old and he wants to be a chef and have his own restaurant. So he and another couple of kids, they brainstormed a fusion restaurant. And one of the faculty members who knows a lot about grants told them there were grants available for basic services in underserved areas and low-income areas. And so now, he's come out and, about a year later, he graduated high school. I thought, "Well, in this state, foster kids, only about 3% of them graduate high school," and no one in his family had ever graduated high school. So I was very proud of him. His family came and they were also very proud of him.

Anne Lorimor: So now, he's working in a restaurant getting the basic experience he needs and I've been able to introduce him to a restaurant owner and I also have several others that are ready to meet him when the time comes. So great possibilities that weren't there for the kid before.

Jeff: Anne, so a lot of our guests have had, I think, paradigm-shifting events happen to them at some point in their lives that ultimately became the catalyst for them doing extraordinary things. And what little I do know about you, it sounds like your formative years were that for you. Am I right? You were born during the Great Depression and you have a massive family, a lot of kids. Right? Can you just maybe give us a taste of a little bit about your youth and how that impacted why you chose this path?

Anne Lorimor: I just said, I was born at the beginning of the Great Depression. I was the oldest of 10 children. That was the first family. We had a second family later with four more kids. And my parents, everybody in my family cared about kids. My grandfather had taken in five orphans and brought them up [inaudible 00:13:14]. My mother and father had a children's home and school and I used to take care of those little babies when I was nine years old, bathe them and dress them and feed them, do everything that the kids need.

Anne Lorimor: And then, when we moved away from there, we were homeless for awhile. And then my second grade teacher stayed in touch with us and she paid my tuition at a boarding school in California and I think that was a very important event. And I feel like I want to pay that forward.

Jeff: You're kind of a chronic underachiever. Right? So you've got a bachelor's and master's and PhD. You've got a lot of acronyms after your name. So clearly, you just kind of sat around. Right?

Anne Lorimor: Never did anything.

Jeff: Yeah.

Anne Lorimor: But if you want to get it accurate, I have two bachelor's, two master's, and a PhD and I also have an RN. So, yes, that was a fallback position for me.

Erik Weihenmayer: So your work with kids now fuels you to go do the Kilimanjaro climb to bring attention to your organization, maybe as a fundraiser? Was that how it happened? How did you get that idea?

Anne Lorimor: I once walked in a marathon in Phoenix for mental health and I read about them all the time where they use these to get money for the organizations that they really want to help. And I just thought this would be pretty dramatic, especially after it turned that I was going to be the oldest woman. And I just did want to get attention and funds for the programs that I carry out.

Erik Weihenmayer: Were you scared a little bit, going ... I mean, I guess you traveled a ton, so maybe it wasn't that scary, but attacking this big mountain at 85, wasn't that a bit intimidating?

Anne Lorimor: Some people in my group were intimated by just being abroad. I've been in more than 100 countries, so that part does not intimidate me.

Erik Weihenmayer: Right.

Anne Lorimor: Walked into Nigeria years and years ago at the very start of the civil war. So you learn not to be very afraid.

Erik Weihenmayer: Right.

Anne Lorimor: Climbing a mountain is just putting one foot in front of the other. And someone had given me a quote from St. Francis of Assisi, said, "First, you do what's possible, then you do the difficult, and then finally you've accomplished the impossible." So I just thought, "Yes, I'm going to do it." And I wasn't injured at that time, so it was easier from that point of view.

Erik Weihenmayer: How did you know? I mean, because that's a good life lesson. One foot in front of the next. But when it comes to a mountain, how did you know that? Just from all your activities, hiking and being active throughout your life?

Anne Lorimor: Well, I've climbed mountains over much of the southwest, in Colorado, down in Mexico. I did Ayers Rock in Australia before they banned it. I climbed the Great Pyramid in Egypt before they banned that. So I've had a fair amount of climbing experience. I'm not a professional. I've never done it with ropes, but I've just done it because I liked it.

Erik Weihenmayer: And then what was that like when you ... All right. So you go up and you climb the thing and you're really excited, I imagine, and then you're the oldest woman to do so. And then four months later, you find out that it gets broken. Who broke it and how did you feel, at first?

Anne Lorimor: It was a Russian woman who did it to keep a vow to her sister. And when I saw it, it looked to me as if people were virtually carrying her up the mountain. I didn't think it looked very fair, but what I decided was I would do it myself. I was going to do it in 88 and be the oldest person, at that time ... The oldest man, I think, was 87. But then, this man from Colorado who lived, I believe, at 9500 feet or something like that, he came and he climbed it and he was using oxygen. And again, I said, "Hey, that's not very fair and I'm going to put it off for a year. And after that, I won't." Even I could run out of steam after awhile, so I'll do it in 89, no matter what.

Erik Weihenmayer: Cool. So it probably was a bit of a shock at first, though, right? That, "Oh, I have to go back and do this again now."

Anne Lorimor: Well, it really startled me because I thought ... I didn't have the Guinness Record because they hadn't got all of the things through, but I still knew I was the oldest woman. But then, all of a sudden, here's this woman and she just popped up when I was talking to somebody that wanted to work with me in my organization. It was a shock and it made me quite sad, actually, because I really wanted to help the kids a lot and having my 15 minutes of fame might get more attention for the cause.

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah, def. I mean, you know this, but when I was going to kayak the Grand Canyon, I was thinking, "Oh, yeah. I'm going to be the only blind person to have ever done this." And it turns out, there was another guy who was kayaking the Grand Canyon who was blind, almost at the same time. And actually, we turned out that we became friends and I invited him along on some of my expeditions and we'd become really good friends, but yeah. That's the way I felt at first, like, "Oh, man. Who is this guy raining on my parade?" It was a little bit of a shock at first.

Jeff: There you go, Anne. Next time around, you could team up with the Russian gal and you guys could do ... No? Not enough? You could be [crosstalk 00:18:35]

Anne Lorimor: She's not going to be able to do it again. I'm telling you. [crosstalk 00:18:39]

Jeff: [crosstalk 00:18:40]

Anne Lorimor: ... when I saw her in the pictures and I thought, "Nope." Now, the man might be able to do it again, but I don't think he cares. It was his daughter that got him up there. But I did meet the man who was a, what we say, a quadruple congenital quadriplegic and they put pads on him. Somebody from Phoenix, actually, K2. And he struggled his way up the mountain. I really admired him. He has such a [crosstalk 00:19:08]

Erik Weihenmayer: That's such a small world because we know the guy who founded ... one of the founders of K2 in Phoenix and ...

Anne Lorimor: Kevin Cherilla?

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah, Kevin Cherilla and I think we're talking about Kyle Maynard, who's the ...

Anne Lorimor: Exactly, exactly. Yeah.

Erik Weihenmayer: And so you were on the mountain the same time he was?

Anne Lorimor: I don't know. I don't think so. I met him later in Phoenix and K2 is doing some wonderful things, too. I really admire the things they do.

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah. We should get Kyle on this podcast, but Kyle Maynard is a quadruple amputee and he kind of crabbed his way to the summit of Kilimanjaro ...

Anne Lorimor: They put pads on him.

Erik Weihenmayer: ... with an amazing team. Yeah. So he's incredible.

Anne Lorimor: Yes. I thought so. Actually, some K2 people were on the mountain at the same time. We saw them. We camped at some of the same places, but we didn't really meet them until I came back.

Erik Weihenmayer: Right.

Jeff: Let me just give Erik and No Barriers a little bit of credit here because Kyle showed up to one of the No Barriers events many, many moons ago and he had never hiked or climbed, ever. Period. Nothing. Other than navigating some hills and city streets. And Erik, in the No Barriers spirit, saw a problem and saw a challenge with trying to create mobility for Kyle and started improvising and eventually got Kyle up a big peak in Colorado and then, ultimately, that was sort of the platform for him to go on and do what you're referencing. So he's another byproduct of people taking note of an issue and creating energy and excitement and improvisation around intention. And so here's to you, Big E.

Erik Weihenmayer: Our technologies were pretty bad at first, though. We pretty much just wrapped his stumps up with some foam, some bath towels, packing tape, and I believe we put Safeway shopping bags over the whole outfit and then he pretty much just kind of crabbed his way to the top and was there and he did it totally independently. We were just hiking along beside him.

Anne Lorimor: You've got to give him credit. He said that his parents always encouraged him, but he was ready to take on the challenge. So you had really fertile field to work with.

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah.

Jeff: So Anne, you know, Erik and I have spent our lives in the mountains and we always are not afraid to showcase the metaphor that is so very clear with what an individual and a team experiences in the mountains and how it perfectly translates to so much of what we do in life. All the way of starting at the beginning, defining objectives, seeing an issue, like we were just talking about, seeing a problem, figuring out how to attack it, establishing a team, and then going out and executing, finding these moments of pain, right, that exist out there. Can you talk to us a little bit about sort of the metaphorical connection you've made with the things that you've done and how it relates not only just to your life, but your life's work?

Anne Lorimor: I'm working with a woman writing a book about my experience and my life. The title of the book is Climbing for Change, Overcoming Challenges on the Way to the Top. We're going back into my life and saying climbing from poverty, climbing from ignorance, climbing from adversity, all those things. I liked her metaphor. It wasn't mine, originally. I was going to do a book, but just do it kind of chronologically and bring in the things only that I thought related to this particular climb and the works that I do. I do think that your life has a lot to do with the thing you choose to get involved in. I mean, the fact that I was homeless at one time and that we were very poor and that there had been foster kids in the family, all those things, was a difference. So I like to help low-income, at-risk children and I focus on foster, homeless, and orphan children. They're the ones that particularly ... They face very special challenges.

Anne Lorimor: I do think that, obviously, every child has to have food, clothing, and shelter. They have to have that before I get them, but I would also help them find those things if I found kids that had potential. But my own program is simply to help them live lives they love, really have great careers, and then give back.

Erik Weihenmayer: We breezed over, Anne ... I don't know if you feel comfortable. I mean, just say pass if you're not interested, but we kind of breezed over the homelessness part of your life. That's a pretty big deal, as a kid. You had mentioned it in passing. Could you dive into that a little more?

Anne Lorimor: I never thought of part of it. We did live with my grandmother for awhile between times and I guess that's a kind of homelessness, but I never thought of it. I felt very secure. But then, after we had the children's home and school in New Mexico, some people came in that disapproved of some of the things my father had done. And so they sort of shunned us. If we'd been Amish, that's what it would've been. He wasn't allowed to speak in church anymore and he wasn't allowed to testify or any of the things people do [inaudible 00:24:24]. So we left and we went out in the great, big old truck that my father built a cage on and he put canvas over the top, sort of like the old covered wagons. He did that, I don't know, over a month.

Anne Lorimor: And then we came on out to Arizona, found a place where ... My mother did the gardening and my father did some printing and we went to school there, but we didn't want to stay there. He wanted his own work. So we bought some property in Phoenix in an area that's very, very, very slummy now. But, anyway, we had the school then. When I was just in eighth grade, I started to be part of the teaching because it was a one-room schoolhouse. So I taught the third graders their math and their English and their spelling. Then, about that time, you weren't able to build. It was wartime. And so we had this property and we put this tent on it. We lived there in that tent, I think, over a year with just bare earth floor and no electricity, running water, telephone, anything of that sort.

Anne Lorimor: But the thing was, somehow, I never thought this was permanent. We never did lose hope. People were often finding, as I said, my second grade teacher stepped up and furnished the money for my boarding school. And later on, we built a building there that's still standing and is still in use. My brother did a lot of the bricklaying, just as a very small boy. And I helped put in the floor myself and I don't think I've ever been so tired in my life as when we put in this concrete floor by hand. But then, we did have a place to live and so the homelessness was over.

Anne Lorimor: It scared me one more time when my parents separated and I was just grown and ready to go on my own and I didn't know where I was going to go, what I was going to do. And then I got accepted by a nursing school in Cincinnati. It was the kind where you lived in a dorm and did your stuff and so I thought, "For three years, I'm safe."

Erik Weihenmayer: So this was, first of all, the first time you had roughed it. Your Kilimanjaro climb, you'd been roughing it in the past and so you were used to that kind of resiliency in your life.

Anne Lorimor: I said that, that anybody that wants to climb Kilimanjaro has to be willing to rough it. You go for the whole time, in our case it was seven days, without showers, which just isn't the same to have a [inaudible 00:26:50] partially hot water some of the time. I thought we were fed very well, but some people complained a lot about that, too.

Erik Weihenmayer: It sounds like, also, your childhood, even though you faced hardship, in times where you really needed it, like when your teacher stepped up and provided your scholarship to the school, you had people stepping up in the community and supporting you in crucial moments. So that's probably a part of your motivation, with your own foundation, to give back. Right?

Anne Lorimor: You have to pay it forward. I was given so much help. I had wonderful teachers all along the way and one of them, particularly, broadened my horizons in ways you can't imagine. She took me to concerts and another old woman took me to, can you imagine, a book lunch. Somebody on my level wouldn't get to go to a book lunch. And also, she said something else to me that's really [inaudible 00:27:50]. She talked about a friend that she met who inherited something. And she said, "But she spent her capital." So I always knew that I wanted to have an endowment fund that we spent only the interest from so that it would never go away.

Anne Lorimor: And that's another one of my programs with the kids is financial literacy. I have an arrangement with a major bank that they can have a low-balance, no-fee account and we also give them information on this so they can learn to handle their money.

Erik Weihenmayer: Amazing.

Jeff: The fact that you had this experience from this second-grade teacher and you reference her many times, I feel like there seems to be, in every person that I speak to, there's typically on individual, whether it's a parent, a family member, in this case it was your teacher, and oftentimes it is a teacher, that finds a way to make a contribution to an individual's life. And perhaps, they don't even know how impactful that it is. I'm wondering, that second-grade teacher, how much of your trajectory, now that you look back over your life, how much of your trajectory do you feel came from that person, from that one individual?

Anne Lorimor: It was a tremendous boost to me and I did stay in touch with her other times throughout my life. She moved to California and I visited her. Every time I visited her, I felt uplifted somehow because she believed in me. She really did and that was helpful, but I also do give credit to some of the other teachers who were very impactful on my life.

Jeff: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Erik Weihenmayer: So how active are you now? What's your training program look like today? How do you stay active when you're not climbing Kilimanjaro?

Anne Lorimor: I do what I did to train. I go walking every day with my little dog and we have mountains around my house and I climb those. We've set up a local hiker's group of people that want to support my cause and about once a month we go out and hike to peaks around. We've been to Dreamy Draw and [inaudible 00:30:01] Buttes. [inaudible 00:30:02] the superstitions, various things that are fun. I just know that you cannot stop at my age. I cannot afford to get unfit.

Erik Weihenmayer: [inaudible 00:30:12]

Anne Lorimor: It'd be too hard to get back.

Jeff: No, we say this all the time. It's easier to stay fit than it is to get fit. Right?

Anne Lorimor: Even for younger people. For older people, it might be almost impossible if I really got unfit to get back.

Jeff: Yeah. I mean, your goal is to take care of your hips and your shoulders. Right? And make sure of it because, also, your hips and your shoulders.

Anne Lorimor: Don't forget my knees. They're important, too.

Jeff: We'll throw your knees in there, too.

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah. My friend, Charlie, says, "Motion is lotion." That's actually true. Isn't it?

Anne Lorimor: I would go for that.

Erik Weihenmayer: When you sit around, you actually hurt worse.

Anne Lorimor: And sometimes, when I'm hiking and I start to get a twinge here or there, I say to myself, "My synovial fluid is flowing freely. All my joints move with comfort and ease."

Jeff: Yeah. Is that your mantra? You do that [crosstalk 00:31:01]

Anne Lorimor: It's an affirmation there.

Jeff: Yes.

Anne Lorimor: The mantra about the kids is, "What we give them is a hand up, not a handout."

Jeff: Ooh, all right. I like it because you're not gifting, necessarily. You're not saying, "Here is your gift. I'm willing to do this for you." This is you saying, "I'm going to give you an opportunity to be able to then do what you will with it." Is that accurate?

Anne Lorimor: Exactly. And when we go off to the Teen Feast, I ask them to have $200 and they get all the things I told you; the food, lodging, the membership, the [inaudible 00:31:42], all that. But they have to have a couple hundred for the meals that aren't provided and for their own personal expenses.

Jeff: Skin in the game. Right?

Anne Lorimor: Right away, I want skin in the game. You're so right.

Erik Weihenmayer: And now, Anne, when you climbed Kilimanjaro, obviously there's a fundraising and awareness component, but I imagine there's got to be also this exemplary living kind of component, as well, where you are a trailblazer. Right? You're saying to these kids, "Hey, you have barriers. I have age barriers and all kinds of barriers and I'm still going to do something big." So there's an inspirational quality to your message, as well. Right?

Anne Lorimor: I think there is and it reaches not only the young people that I want to help, it reaches older people. And their children, who are responsible for them, feel that they could do more. And I did say something else recently that people say, "Oh, it's easy for Anne. She's so fit and healthy," but the point is, I am a cancer victor, more than a survivor of more than 30 years. I have a replacement shoulder. I also have osteoporosis, which I battle. People often have that problem. And I had an ankle so shattered that it had 13 pieces of metal in it to help it heal. So my life is not perfect, but it doesn't stop me from going on.

Erik Weihenmayer: Or pain free, I imagine.

Anne Lorimor: There's still some pain in the shoulder. I ignore it.

Erik Weihenmayer: Right.

Jeff: We keep unearthing these interesting layers of you and how you've just decided that you're not going to be a victim in any sense. Right? You're not going to feel sorry for yourself, you're not going to wallow. You're just saying, "It is what it is. I'm going to manage it." Right? So you seem to be quite efficient at managing both in so many different aspects of your life.

Anne Lorimor: When you describe me, people often use the word persistent. And so that is and I give it as a piece of advice to people. When you find your focus, never, ever quite.

Jeff: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah. And so how's the foundation doing now? How's your work doing? Did the climbs, that 15 minutes of fame, bring you guys to a good level?

Anne Lorimor: I don't handle the fundraising part very well, but I've hired a new assistant who's going to help me.

Jeff: You'll get better.

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah, exactly.

Anne Lorimor: We're getting out an end-of-the-year letter to let people know what's happening and what's going and I think they'll be excited about it. We have one other program I haven't talked about and that is we do youth toastmaster's program. My feeling is that if a child can express themself well and feel comfortable doing so, no matter what career he goes into, it'll help him. It'll even help him in his life. And I've seen remarkable things. We had one little kid that came into our first class and he just [inaudible 00:34:36] that he could hardly speak for even a minute about himself at the beginning. But at the end of the course, he spoke for five minutes with his head up. I just love to see the things happen where kids get themselves a better shot at life and doing the things they really want to do in life.

Erik Weihenmayer: That's awesome.

Jeff: We just talked to someone else recently on one of our podcasts about how storytelling is, honestly, really the best form of exchanging information. It's the format that we, as humans, ingest the most effectively and I think that, in what you say right there with the youth toastmaster idea, you're teaching children how to tell stories in an effective way. Right?

Anne Lorimor: That certainly is one of the things they do. They have what we call an icebreaker where they talk about their own lives. And it is telling a story. In my own toastmasters group, we tell lots of stories and I love telling stories. That's something I've enjoyed since I was a little girl.

Jeff: You're a good storyteller.

Anne Lorimor: Thank you.

Erik Weihenmayer: There's a lot of history in terms of just people breaking the age barrier, one thing after the next. I see a lot of folks with disabilities breaking through barriers, like Kyle, but I think age is another sort of great horizon that we're going to be just crushing, currently, but in the future. Right? Do you see yourself as kind of a pioneer, kind of maybe an exemplary of how to be active as we age?

Anne Lorimor: I could certainly think that about myself. I sometimes joke and say, "I've got another 30 years." Of course, nobody knows what's going to happen the next day, but I keep thinking that I want to keep active as long as I'm alive and I want to keep helping other people. Somebody asked me to describe myself once and I said I was adventurous, curious, caring, and persistent. So I don't want to lose any of that.

Erik Weihenmayer: Do you get organizations that contact you and want you to be the spokesperson? Do you get a lot of folks that write you and are just motivated to go do cool things because of you?

Anne Lorimor: A lot more people talk to me than write to me because I do give speeches and small things, so far. I'm planning to start a real speaking career where I reach larger audiences. But where I have spoken, I spoke one time for a congresswoman's audience of seniors in California and a lot of them came up after me and said how inspiring it was. And even on the airplane coming back, someone was talking to my nephew and saying that he wanted to tell his parents about me because they were sort of just going into this slumping old age and he didn't want to see it happen.

Anne Lorimor: So I really believe there's a lot that can be done. And I have pretty simple rules about it and I simply say you want to keep yourself as fit and healthy as possible in mind, body, and spirit. So that means an exercise regime and I stress choose one that you enjoy. I said if I went to my trainer and he told me to do jumping jacks, I would've gone away. I just wouldn't have done it. But if you do something you love, which I love the walking and the hiking ... and he had me in all kinds of machines I hadn't had before and that was actually kind of fun. He got me a [inaudible 00:37:59] the second time and I was doing the battling ropes and [inaudible 00:38:03].

Erik Weihenmayer: Wow.

Anne Lorimor: The kinds of things I hadn't done the first time. So if I hadn't hurt myself, I would've been in much better shape for climbing.

Jeff: Do you share you doing these things anywhere on any platform, of you doing the battle ropes and doing the balance board and stuff?

Anne Lorimor: We have a Facebook page called Creating Exciting Futures. And then I have my personal page, Anne Lorimor. And also, I'm on Twitter and LinkedIn and we post some of the things and we're hoping to get me back on Instagram again, because I think people do find it inspiring and I want to encourage them.

Jeff: Yes. That's the storytelling aspect. Right? You are telling a story every single day and I think all of us ... that's the only reason I look at social media is to continue to get fired up. Right? And I think if people can watch you do your thing, that ...

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah, it spreads the love.

Jeff: Yeah, it extends your reach. Right? It extends your reach.

Anne Lorimor: That's exactly ... We want to spread the love. I love the quotation from Mother Theresa where she said, "We can't all do great things, but we can all do small things with great love."

Erik Weihenmayer: Oh, wow. Well, that touches on ... I mean, you've talked about the mind and the body. What about the spirit side? What's your guiding principles with spiritual stuff? Has that had an impact in your life? I mean, I know when I head to the mountains, I can't see the mountains like Kilimanjaro, but I feel the connection with something greater in nature, for sure.

Anne Lorimor: There's a quotation from the old King James version of the Bible that said, "I will lift up my eyes into the hills from whence cometh my help." And I've always felt inspired when I look at mountains. Being in touch with nature has always been important to me and I know that it helps me keep going. One of the things I had to say to people, "You have to handle your stress." And you find ways to do it that suit you and mine are walking or hiking or swimming or maybe just going out in nature and absorbing the quite. I also read funny books when I'm really down and it gives me a boost.

Jeff: You read funny books.

Anne Lorimor: Well, I think of those [Norman 00:40:24] cousins that wrote something about how he cured himself of cancer by ... or something. I don't remember what it was, by reading and using books. And I find it helps me. I think laughter is one of the things that relieves stress and makes your endorphins flow and helps you be healthier. One other thing I haven't mentioned, that is that I tell people, "Do get deeply involved in a cause greater than yourself." There are all kinds of ways to volunteer or to donate or things of that sort and I really believe that it helps you. There's a research that shows that actually giving to others gives your body a healthier boost. I really am for that. And if we all paid it forward, it could ripple over the whole world and the world would be a better place.

Erik Weihenmayer: Do you think also that personally creates longevity? To have this cause, this thing, this purpose that's bigger than you, that keeps you powering forward?

Anne Lorimor: I think it very well could. I had an uncle that retired and he was bored silly. And I tried to get him into volunteer and other work. He never did and he just died. No reason, he just died. So I believe that if you have something outside yourself that it does help you ... just to keep the health and the fitness to carry on.

Erik Weihenmayer: Do you see people like that? Like your uncle that just lost their mojo, they lost their purpose, they're getting older and they're just like, "I've done everything I can do in my life and now it's just like the slide downward." Do you see that or do you have mostly people that are pretty inspirational around you?

Anne Lorimor: Well, the people I have around me are pretty inspirational but, when I go out, I do see people of the other sort and I just feel bad for them because there's so much to do out there and so much that's exciting and worthwhile.

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah. If you can stay active and stay present and stay motivated.

Anne Lorimor: You have to do that. Otherwise, you can't. There's a man at church that was quite a hiker when he was young. So when he got to be 60, he said, "Well, I guess I'm going to have to phase it out. I can't do it anymore." Somebody talked him into doing a few more hikes and he realized that he could keep right on. And now he's 70 and still going strong. He's approached me a lot when he knew about my climbs, as well.

Jeff: Well, our whole No Barriers community is all about that sense of community and inspiring each other because it becomes a difficult ask to be self inspired all the time. We talk about, "Go out there and do hard things and create purpose." That's easy to say and then you still have to get your own butt up out of bed and make it happen. So clearly, Anne, you walk that walk and I can only hope that people see you and hear you and watch you and are inspired by you. And I know you've done that. And then obviously, the legacy that you've created with creating a platform for young people is extraordinary in every sense.

Anne Lorimor: Thank you.

Erik Weihenmayer: Thank you for being a part of this.

Jeff: Yeah.

Anne Lorimor: I'm really happy to talk with you. It's always a pleasure.

Jeff: Yeah. Thank you for spending some of your time. Anne, we think very highly of you and everything that you've done and really appreciate you spending some time and sharing your message with us.

Anne Lorimor: Just let me refer you and other people to creatingexcitingfutures.org. It tells about me, the climb, the cause, and a lot of other things and gives you a chance to contribute yourself if you want to.

Jeff: It is a great website. I spent some time on there, too.

Erik Weihenmayer: Anne, thank you for breaking through so many barriers for us all.

Anne Lorimor: Well, I admire your case and I admire K2, all the people that are in there helping people live the fullest life they could live. I'm for that.

Erik Weihenmayer: Good. Awesome.

Jeff: [inaudible 00:44:25]

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah. Want to debrief a second here?

Jeff: Yeah. I'll take a stab at this one now because Anne is ... I don't know about you, man, but, Erik, you and I have both had a monumental birthday recently and aging is something that I think about a lot now. I didn't use to. Youth is lost on the young. Right?

Jeff: So now, I think about it a lot and I think about legacy and I think about purpose. I needed Anne today. As I'm feeling tired from coming back from Nepal just last night, my body feels tired and my mind feels a little sluggish and she's my cup of coffee this morning because I needed to hear what it's like, to be reminded of what it means to continue to establish that purpose and continue to see ways to impact the world in positive ways and embrace this whole chronology of life and allow that tapestry of Anne's life to be pulled over and over again with the effort of inspiring young people and giving them the opportunity based on her experiences and how she struggles early on, just from circumstantial situation that she was in with her family and then found a way to pay it forward in a pretty dramatic way. So I'm grateful to Anne for giving me that kick in the pants that I needed today. What about you, E?

Erik Weihenmayer: Yeah. For sure. Same thing. I mean, yeah. I just turned 51. So I'm sort of thinking about the aging thing. And now I realize that I have, like, 37 or 8 years before I'm geared up and warmed up and ready to go.

Jeff: You better get busy, yo.

Erik Weihenmayer: Well, I've got 37 years to figure it out.

Jeff: Yeah, well ...

Erik Weihenmayer: So Anne's definitely inspiring. She goes on this podcast, our No Barriers Podcast, and obviously we lead with this cool thing that she climbed Kilimanjaro twice and broke that age barrier, but, really, when you dive into it, that's just the icing on the cake. That's the gravy. That's the top cream, but really her whole life is the No Barriers equation. At a young age, having hardship, having incredible support systems in her life, that sort of translating into a sense of purpose and drive and energy, wanting to give back, wanting to pay it back, and have this thing that's bigger than you that sustains you in your longevity throughout your entire life. So that's really cool, for me, just getting back from [inaudible 00:47:27] and thinking, "You know, god, okay, I've closed this door, this chapter, and I should feel like I'm pounding my chest on top of the world.

Erik Weihenmayer: And like you said, Jeff, I got home and I'm like, "Okay, that was cool, but what's next. Where do I go from here?" Right? And so I think that's a question that we're always asking us and so Anne is a great example that you can keep powering forward with purpose in your life and you can keep asking yourself what's next, how do I impact the world, how do I elevate the world? And it never stops. So, yeah. I hope to live in that way,

Jeff: In the Anne way. Awesome. Good podcast. Thanks, Erik.

Erik Weihenmayer: Anne, thank you so much and I hope everyone enjoyed No Barriers.

Jeff: Thanks, Anne.

Anne Lorimor: I'm so glad to have been with you and good luck on all your projects.

Jeff: See you next time.

Erik Weihenmayer: Thanks to all of you for listening to our podcast. We know that you have a lot of choices about how you can spend your time and so we appreciate you spending it with us. If you enjoy this podcast, we encourage you to subscribe to it, share it, and give us a review. Show notes can be found at nobarrierspodcast.com. Special thanks to the Dan Ryan Band for our intro song, which is called Guidance. The production team behind this podcast includes producers [Dedrick Jonk 00:48:52] and Pauline Shafer. Sound design, editing, and mixing by Tyler Cotman. Graphics by Sam Davis and marketing support by Laura Baldwin and Jamie Donnelly. Thanks to all you amazing people for the great work you do.

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