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Image of Graham Keene reaching summit of Mount Everest.

Alumnus becomes oldest British person to summit Mt. Everest

At 68 years old, alumnus Graham Keene has become the oldest British person to successfully summit Mt. Everest, overtaking Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who was 65 years when he reached the peak in 2009.

Graham Keene (Recreation Management, 1983) set the record following a 16-day “flash” expedition that was significantly quicker than normal ascents, which can often take months.

Graham’s interest in the mountains started almost 25 years ago when he climbed Mt.Kilimanjaro with his sons, Ben & Daniel in 1998. In 2004, he climbed the highest point in South America, Aconcagua. Since his retirement, he has trained, trekked and climbed summits around the world, including Mt.Vinson in Antarctica, Mt.Elbrus in Russia, Putha Hiunchuli in Nepal, and Cotapaxi in Ecuador.

He spent much of the past 2 years of COVID-19 restrictions training at home and in the last 12 months, he transitioned to spending hours in the gym with a personal trainer alongside long walks with weighted packs on Dartmoor, Exmoor, and the Southwest Coast Path.

When he could travel, Graham went to the Alps to do ice climb training guide who has been alongside him every step of the way for the past few years, who has said: 

“We have been preparing meticulously for the upcoming task, knowing Everest would be pushing the limits for a person of his age. It is not only a matter of success or failure. On Everest it can quickly become a matter of life and death. The result is the merit of all this hard work.”

The alumnus only spent 7 days from leaving basecamp to returning on 15 May. Upon reaching the summit at 6.30am on 13 May, Mr Keene unveiled a flag of his local rugby team Exeter Chiefs, as well as pictures of his grandchildren.

According to the Himalaya database of members who have attempted to summit Everest, Graham is in the top 20 successful oldest climbers of the nearly 7000 who have stood ‘on top of the world.’