You turned 70 this year - do you see many people of your age down the wall or at the crag? Do you think more people will climb into their 60's and 70's in the future? If so, why?
There are a few people of my age that I see at the wall and crags. Most of the climbers of my age for whatever reason, do not believe that structured training can help their climbing. Also there is a widespread belief in my peer group that it's impossible to build strength/muscle after approximately 60. I have kicked that myth right into the long grass! I sincerely believe that more people will climb hard into their 60s, 70s and beyond as structured training becomes more accepted for all age groups.
What advice would you give you someone who thinks their "best days are behind them" and might lack the confidence to aim high?
Huge gains are possible at any age, the main thing is to start slow to avoid injuries and build up gradually. You must have a structured programme that is done regularly. The programme must be set by a person who has experience of climbing/training climbers. Anything is possible, if one wants it enough, and has the discipline to set short and long term goals.
Lovely interview with Dr Ivor McCourt who climbed his first 7a after just turning 70 years of age. What interesting times - in the space of only what is really only the last 5-6 years I've seen complete apathy to formal training methods swap around to a large proportion of people (of all ages) looking to turn up at coaching events, training seminars. Many are people who were also completely skeptical only that many years ago also!
I wonder does that mean that climbing in the next 5-6 years? Predictions? More and more acceptance that indoor climbing is the indoor swimming version of our sport - potential for lots of involvement from mainstream people. Outdoor swimming is the peak of swimming however it's also got the smallest percentage of people doing it - made less accessible by having to deal with the outdoors (which sad as it is to say so, but does not appeal to everyone) and the harshness of the environment. Outdoor climbing is no different - by far and away the best of climbing discipline but for many, they don't have the time or energy to commit to it (realistically, going outdoors takes several hours of your day, whereas going to an indoor facility takes only a few hours - no different to going to a gym). Personally, I don't think it's a bad thing - the more people doing the sport the better (as it also means there's more chance of even a small percentage of them actually trying outdoor climbing).