John Hettish: The Oldest Climber at 71?

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John Hettish has often been asked ‘Are you the oldest climber in the U.S.?’  

“I had to answer that I didn’t think so but might be,” Hettish said.  “I’ll be 72 on January 30, 2017, if I live that long, and I’m likely to.”  No doubt since Hettish, a former Army Ranger and Company Commander in Vietnam has survived combat in that conflict of long ago winning a Bronze Star.

Hettish, President of Middle Tennessee Two-way Inc., was a rock climber in his youth and his first experience with tower climbing ‘back in the day’ was unencumbered with safety training or climbing gear and just following a simple order of ‘go up and fix it,’ he told Inside Towers.           

Still Hettish wonders if there is an older commercial climber out there.  “Just curious,” he said. “It wouldn’t surprise me, but I’d be interested in finding out.”  The truth of the matter is that a person has no idea how he’s going to feel or what condition he’s going to be in until he gets there. I began climbing tall towers (over 1,000 feet) in my early 40s and I’m still climbing. I still feel like I did in my 40s, 50s, 60s and possibly beyond.”

To any doubters, Hettish has posted a video of a recent climb (see link above) made on September 22, 2016. “I’m only working at 80 feet or so but the previous week I had climbed over 600 feet as part of the project shown in this video,” he said.  “I only post the videos of our tower work as a hobby and to show others what we do. Unlike most of the videos where the helmet is on my hard hat and you see what I see, this time I’m using two cameras, experimenting with other camera techniques while getting paid for it,” Hettish said.

October 26, 2016

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