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Neely Quinn interviews pro rock climbers, climbing trainers, and other insightful members of the climbing community about how we can get a little better at rock climbing. Subjects include how to train for certain aspects of the sport, how to rehab injuries, the best diet for climbing, and personal stories about climbing.

Feb 9, 2022

Elyn Lytton is a 68-year-old climber from Colorado who started climbing in her early 50’s and is still regularly crushing 5.12’s (indoors and on toprope). She is also my mother-in-law and I’m constantly impressed by her. She’s a really good example of a person who does things in the name of sustainability, meaning, she LOVES climbing and will do whatever it takes to be able to do it for many more years.

In this conversation, we discuss her approach to climbing and what she does to make it work for her body (with the aches and pains that come with age). We also talk about how she started lifting heavy weights in the past couple years in order to improve her bone density, and how that’s working out for her.

Elyn has had setbacks with chronic migraines and arthritis/hand pain in the past, and we talk about how she’s tackled those things successfully through diet so that she can climb several days a week pretty much as hard as she wants now.

Something that’s always struck me about Elyn is her ability to bend “norms” and just do what’s right for her. For example, she only top ropes and she never climbs outside. She doesn’t have any desire to do either of those things, but she loves climbing and gets a great workout all the same, and she encourages her climbing partners to take care of themselves in the way that she does, too. We talk about how people put pressure on each other (and themselves) to do more, more, more with climbing, but how sometimes that’s not best for everyone for physical and mental reasons.

I’ve gotten a lot of requests recently for interviews with older climbers, so I hope this is helpful to hear how Elyn makes climbing work for herself. But even if you are still a very young climber, there’s something to be learned from her wisdom.


Elyn Lytton Interview Details

  • Why she started climbing in her fifties
  • How she fit climbing into her schedule with a demanding job before she retired
  • How she deals with osteoarthritis in her fingers
  • How she cured chronic migraines
  • How her diet helps her climb hard and recover well
  • How lifting heavy weights helped her osteoporosis and her climbing
  • How climbing has changed her life for the better

Show Links



Family selfie! From left to right: Neely Quinn, Seth Lytton, Elyn Lytton on top of a lighthouse in Florida


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