“Oldest to Summit Rainier” Meet these Two Amazing Women
"Oldest to Summit Rainier" Meet these Two Amazing Women
On Monday July 10th, 2023 - Rose Vanderhoof, a 78 year old resident of Ashford, Washington, became the oldest woman to reach the top of 14,414 foot Mount Rainier. This was Rose’s 9th and final summiting of the highest peak in Washington State.
She also had assistance from her family, as her son and granddaughter who trained to help her get to the summit.
"I know this is a really, really tough climb, It’s not just physical. It’s a big mental thing.” -Rose Vanderhoof (interview with Fox 13 Seattle
Rose maintains that she wasn’t trying to set an all-time record when eclipsing Bronka Sundstrom's 21 year old record.
Bronka reached the summit of Rainier in 2002 - at the age of 77. A few years ago, at the age of 90, she almost broke her own record, when on the verge of getting to the top - had to turn back, on account of bad weather.
Bronka Sundstrom grew up hiking in her native Poland. After her country was invaded by Nazi Germany, Bronka and her entire family had to endure the harsh Internment camps. Bronka and a sister who fled to Russia were the only survivors of the family.
After British forces liberated her prison camp, Bronka was taken to Sweden. While there, she met her eventual husband, Ake Sundstrom. It was their mutual love of hiking that helped her endure the terrible loss of her family.
Bronka, Ake and their son Allen settled in Tacoma. They eventually built a cabin in Ashford, which became their full time residence after retiring in 1980.
Bronka, at the age of 96, still climbs the nearly 5,000 feet, 8 mile round trip from Paradise to Camp Muir more times than she can count, she never tires of it.
"It's different every time."
“If it weren’t for the mountains, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. The mountains teach us of independence, strength, confidence and beauty.” -Bronka Sundstrom
INFO: Fox 13 Seattle, Washington Trails Association, Holocost Center for Humanity