Rock of Ages

by Coleman Cornelius | Photos by William A. Cotton

Robert Kelman isn’t spending retirement twiddling his thumbs. But he does tape his fingers.

Kelman is chair and professor emeritus in the CSU Department of Computer Science. And at age 87 he is an avid rock climber. He’s been at it for nearly 50 years, yet gained widespread attention when he became the oldest person to ascend Devils Tower in Wyoming last fall. Outside and Climbing magazines highlighted his feat, as did several Colorado media outlets.

Kelman decided to climb the monolith while recovering from his second open-heart surgery in 2015 to correct a congenital valve defect. Like many athletes, he knew setting a goal would give him motivation. After that ascent, Kelman was off on another climbing adventure in Joshua Tree National Park. He has spent plenty of time climbing closer to his home in Loveland and has written a guidebook, Rock Climbing at Vedauwoo, Wyoming, published by his company, Heel & Toe Publishers.

In the off-season, Kelman lifts weights and plans shorter forays, such as bouldering outings near Horsetooth Reservoir.

“Anything I climb these days,” he says, “I’m probably the oldest to climb it.”

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