WILMINGTON, N.Y. (AP) — When he stepped foot atop Whiteface Mountain, Jerry Levine became, at 82, the oldest person to climb all of New York's highest mountains.
Levine joined the ranks of the Adirondack 46ers, so-named for the original number of peaks thought to be at least 4,000-feet high, after climbing Esther then Whiteface, the Olympic mountain, with family and friends on Saturday.
Levine, of Cortlandt Manor in Westchester County, will be 83 in September, making him older than the late Al Laubinger of Moreau, Saratoga County, who was also 82 when he summited all 46 peaks, though several months younger than Levine.
Levine tells the Adirondack Daily Enterprise (http://bit.ly/PN0Exs) that it was a hard day — Esther is 4,239-feet high while Whiteface, the Olympic ski mountain, is 4,867-feet high.
"It was a tough hike climbing, but I was determined to do it and I feel great right now," Levine told the newspaper shortly after finishing. "If someone told me I had to do another leg, I'd still want to do it."
Phil Corell, one of his hiking partners on Saturday and the treasurer of the 46ers organization that recognizes those who accomplish the feat, confirmed Levine was the oldest and told the newspaper he is "just an amazing man.
"He's worked hard to stay in the kind of shape to do this," Corell said. "I guess when he realized he could be the oldest to finish, he put off finishing until he turned 82. He just plugs away. He's just very steady and can go all day."
To become a "46er," a person must climb all of the 46 major Adirondack Mountain peaks. All but three are higher than 4,000 feet. A 47th peak, MacNaughton, is 4,000 feet even but is not required to become a 46er. Mount Marcy, at 5,344 feet, is the highest.
Climbers can write to the 46ers club at any time during the quest or after they've bagged their last peak. It's on the honor system though the club encourages hikers to submit trip reports including hiking partners, experiences and sights and invites photos.
Levine climbed with a group that included his sons, Gary and Peter, their wives and several grandchildren.
The group was met at the top of Whiteface by Levine's wife Sondra and more than 100 supporters. The hike was a fundraiser for the Adirondack Scholarship Foundation, which provides funding for children to attend camps.
"It's great that people are still getting out and doing things like this at this or any age," said Paul Ertelt, a spokesman for the Adirondack Mountain Club.