On July 5, 2004, Hamilton’s Mario Locatelli, known around these parts as the “Mountain Goat of the Bitterroots,” became the oldest person to climb Alaska’s 20,320-foot Denali Peak. With his successful summit of the highest point in North America, the then 71-year-old Locatelli had also bagged the highest peaks in all 50 states.
But the Italian-born Locatelli’s climbing days were far from over.
He returned to Montana and wasted no time in setting his sights on his next goal: to become the oldest person to ever summit Mt. Everest.
Locatelli spent the next year and a half trying to raise the money or find a sponsor to front the estimated $80,000 it would cost to connect him with an expedition to ascend the world’s tallest peak, but he told the Independent this week that that quest is now over.
“I couldn’t find a sponsor,” the Goat conceded in his thick Italian accent. “Now I’m afraid the window of opportunity has passed.”
Disappointed at missing what he believes was his one and only chance to tackle Everest, Locatelli is down, but not out. And he’s certainly not done climbing.
“Somebody took my record,” says an indignant Locatelli.
Indeed, a little less than a year after Locatelli grabbed the Denali record at 71 years and 7 months old, 74-year-old Sadao Hoshiko of Oita-shi, Japan summitted the same mountain, becoming the oldest person to do so.
“I thought I would get to keep that record for 10 or maybe 15 years,” says Locatelli. “I didn’t even get to keep it a year.”
Now 73, Locatelli has set his sights on familiar heights: he’s going to chase his Denali record once again in a few years.
“If I feel as good as I do now, I know I can do it,” says Locatelli, who says he feels great.
The septuagenarian still climbs about 9,000 vertical feet every week, just to stay in shape, and is convinced he’ll once again stand on top of the world.
“If the weather cooperates and I can stay strong, we’ll do it.”