Skydiving at 92, Half Dome at 93. Hiker talks about his climb to the top and his hopes for a new adventure

VIDEO | 00:24
Watch 93-year-old Oakland man summit Half Dome in Yosemite

Everett Kalin, a retired professor, celebrated his achievement with his son and granddaughter. (Courtesy Sidney Kalin)


Hiking to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite requires traversing at least 14 miles while gaining 4,800 feet in elevation, an impressive feat for any adult — let alone one in his 90s.

Everett Kalin, a 93-year-old retired seminary professor from Oakland, became one of the oldest people to reach the summit on a trip with family earlier this month. A video of his achievement, posted to Tiktok by granddaughter Sidney, has garnered more than 15 million views.

“I think my biggest emotion was gratitude,” Kalin told The Times about reaching the top.

The idea came to Kalin around the holidays last year. He had previously skydived after celebrating his 92nd birthday, and he was looking for new ways to enjoy his good health in old age.


“We had never done anything like that with Half Dome,” Kalin said, “and I thought it would be fun.”

Kalin trained for the better part of a year, spending his days walking around Lake Merritt and climbing up the 17 flights of stairs in the retirement community where he lives with his wife, Clara.

An itinerary that takes you through the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, El Capitan Meadow, Glacier Point and more.

Sept. 22, 2022

He was joined on the hike by son Jon Kalin and granddaughter Sidney Kalin, who helped secure the necessary hiking permits. The intergenerational trio set out for their trip in mid-July, first hiking out to Little Yosemite Valley to camp overnight.

They began the hike to Half Dome at 5 in the morning, donning headlamps after a breakfast of oatmeal. By the time they made it to a section called “Subdome,” known for its steep granite-hewn stairs, Jon began having doubts.

“In the back of my mind the whole time, I’m like, ‘I don’t know if we’re going to make it,’ ” he said.

Kalin took his time climbing Subdome, at one point getting on his hands and knees when the stairs ended and he had to climb the granite shelf.


“I was having a little trouble,” he said, “and I have the scraped-up knees to illustrate it.”

The trio persisted and made it to the final leg of the hike: a 400-foot climb with nothing but a pair of cables and wooden slats. Kalin hooked into a rock-climbing harness and began pulling himself up the ropes.

“I was learning to lean forward quite a bit,” he said, “giving me quite a fair bit of momentum.”

Kalin said he received encouragement from other hikers on the cables, “silently or not so silently” cheering him on. Eventually, his tenacity bore out, and he made it to the top.

Thanks to the coronavirus, Yosemite National Park is closed, the campgrounds are empty and the trails are void of people.

April 12, 2020

“We just have this moment where the three of us just embrace and we’re all sobbing with achievement,” Jon Kalin recalled.

During the whole hike, Kalin was greeted by other hikers who could not believe their eyes. He said he felt thankful for the inspiring well-wishes he’d received, and he does not plan on stopping here.


“I’m not sure what the next step is, but I’d like there to be a next step,” Kalin said. “I feel so grateful that I’m healthy and I can do this.”