Maestro of Alpine climbing still scaling heights at 98

4 June, 2021: Marcel Remy is the grand old man of Swiss Alpinists, and with his sure and consistent advance as he vanquishes a climbing wall, few would realize he is 98-years of age.

Week in, week out, each Monday morning, Remy drives his old Toyota to the indoor climbing community in Villeneuve on the eastern shores of Lake Geneva, where he meets his son Claude to plot a way to the top.

The veteran gradually puts on his climbing shoes and outfit and having selected his ascent course, advances toward the 16-meter (52-foot) high wall.

Talking to a reporter in between his two climbs, Remy says, “It gives me a great deal of pleasure since you need to work, think and outperform yourself; that is the thing that suits me well. I do it for my health, that is the primary thing. I carry on for my muscles since I’ve seen regularly that in the event that I stop for a little while, it’s a lot harder to begin once more. It’s smarter to continue to come frequently.”

Remy said the key to his proceeded with progress was finding a steady pace.

“The rhythm you need to take, for breathing, for the advancements. On the off chance that I go past that, there’s a cost to pay a while later. I can’t advise you precisely what, yet either the shoulders or the muscles. It’s smarter to go tranquility, without over-exertion, and then it works.”

Climbing has consistently been significant piece of Remy’s life. Raised on stories of the mountains, he went constantly off to find nature and the Alps turned into his playground. Remy worked on the Swiss railroads and invested all his free energy in the mountains, taking his two children with him.

“He was a tough father. With him it was sink or swim, whatever the conditions,” said his eldest son Claude, 68. Despite, his toughness, he realized how to pass on his energy for the Alps to his children. Claude and his 65-year-old sibling Yves have also become notable in the climbing scene.

In August 2020, the top French climbing magazine Grimper dedicated 40-odd pages to their adventures and the most amazing trips they have achieved together.

These days, the roles are turned around and it’s Claude managing his dad as he makes his second ascent of the morning at the Villeneuve climbing lobby, one of the greatest in Switzerland.This time, Remy is the first up the course, making it all the harder. He scales the initial meters with no difficulty except in the upper segments, he battles for a few minutes to discover the advancement that will take him to the top. It is just with a coordinated leap that he at last opens the way to the highest point, agilely springing off his left foot and in a split second arriving on a similar foothold with his right.

“It’s good!” he says, exhausted, prior to advancing down.

Back at the base, sitting on a seat for a very much procured rest, he grasps his clench hands and says to his child: “I’m happy.”

Claude explains: “He’s an extreme character. He’s extremely impervious to hardships. Even if it’s a very difficult section on the wall, as we saw towards the end, he searches and finally works out how to resolve it because he’s motivated.” Claude said most people were stunned when they find out how old his father is, but the respect flows in both directions.

“He inspires great admiration in all age groups, even among the very young,” but even so, “he’ll look at how young people climb and try to copy their movements”. Though he mostly climbs indoors these days, Remy still does sorties into the mountains.

In 2017, at the age of 94, he conquered the Miroir de l’Argentine, a Swiss climbing classic with its 500 metres of limestone wall. And he shows no sign of stopping.

“If I’m still enjoying it and feeling good, why not carry on?” he said.

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