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Esther and Martin Kafer grew up in Switzerland and have been climbing mountains for more than 70 years. They met on a mountain top and spent their honeymoon in 1953 scaling the Matterhorn. 

The couple, now both in their 80s, moved to Canada in 1954, first settling in Kitimat, B.C, and later in Vancouver. It was supposed to be a temporary stop, just long enough for Mr. Kafer to gain some international experience for his job as an electrical engineer with a Swiss company. 

But the couple never left. “The mountains were the big attraction that kept us here,” said Mr. Kafer, who is 85. The Kafers have kept up their mountaineering, taking regular hikes up Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain and skiing every winter at Whistler. 

Now they are putting their love of the mountains to work for a cause. They are heading to Kenya this month to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as part of a fundraiser for Alzheimer Society of British Columbia. 

They have raised $21,000 so far and hope to raise another $9,000. If they make it, the couple will also be the oldest to climb the mountain. The cause has particular resonance for Mr. Kafer. His sister Etta Kafer-Boothroyd, a scientist and former university professor who lives in the Vancouver area, has suffered a rapid decline because of Alzheimer’s. 

In five years years she has gone from working on genetic research to not remembering her name. “It’s kind of a sad story,” said Mr. Kafer. “I just thought that helping the Alzheimer Society with what little we can do would be a good thing.”


It’s back for its 20th year! Grouse Mountain’s Y2Play pass goes on-sale February 15th. Ski or ride for the rest of this season and all of next for up to 80% off. Please be aware, the Munday Alpine Snowshoe Park is currently on Standby as snow stability assessments are being conducted, check back frequently for details. Blue Grouse Loop remains open. The Mountaintop Ice Skating Pond will be closed from 8am-12pm and 3pm-6pm for the Junior Pond Hockey Tournament. Great news riders and skiers, the Grouse Park in Side Cut is now open!