92-year-old becomes oldest person to hike Grand Canyon rim to rim

Alfredo Aliaga Burdio rests at trail sign in Grand Canyon
Guinness World Records

Hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back out again is difficult at any age, but it was a challenge Alfredo Aliaga Burdio knew well. Hiking all the way across it? Even tougher, but the 92-year-old Berlin resident had done that, too.

“I have hiked in the Grand Canyon many times in my life,” Aliaga told Guinness World Records.

But in October 2023, at age 92, Aliaga did something he had not done before: He completed a hike that set the world record for oldest person to cross the Grand Canyon rim to rim on foot (male), Guinness announced on Jan. 2.

Alfredo Aliaga Burdio poses for photo in Grand Canyon with fellow hikers
Guinness World Records

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Two witnesses joined Aliaga on the two-day, 21-hour hike for the world-record certification. Though it’s an impressive time for a 20-plus mile hike with thousands of feet of elevation change, he told USA Today they were slowed down a bit by their fellow hikers greeting them and asking for selfies.

“We lost a lot of time making pictures, and they (would say), ‘Oh, you are my hero, you are my inspiration,'” he said.

Aliaga was hiking in the canyon with his son, on a four-day crossing in 2022, when the idea came to him to challenge what was then the world record for a rim-to-rim crossing.

Alfredo Aliaga Burdio hikes with companions
Guinness World Records

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“I had read about the previous record holder, Mr. John Jepkema, whom I admired immensely,” Aliaga told Guinness. “I knew that I was only a few months younger than Mr. Jepkema had been and thought that I had a great shot at setting a new record the following year.”

He decided to start a daily training regimen of walking 8 miles a day in January of last year.

He had planned to begin the trek in October at the South Rim, but he couldn’t find a hotel room there, so he started on the North Rim. From there, the trail drops 5850 feet to the Colorado River, then climbs more than 4,o00 feet to the South Rim.

Aliaga and his wife, Ingrid, began traveling the world and hiking in their retirement, and they crossed the Grand Canyon several times together. When she eventually became sick with ALS, he stayed home with her to care for her.

Alfredo Aliaga Burdio at the rim of the Grand Canyon
Guinness World Records

“My dad would say, ‘Oh, how about if we do this?'” Anabel Aliaga-Buchenau, Aliaga’s daughter, told USA Today of her parents. “And she would say, ‘Yes, let’s go!’ She was always ready to take on the next adventure.”

Following her death in 2006, Aliaga decided to travel again, revisiting the adventures they’d had together to begin to heal from her loss. And it seems like even after setting a world record, he’s still not quite done — he told Guinness he likes the idea of setting another record, on a trek in the Andes.

Will he return to the Grand Canyon?

“My son-in-law already has a cabin for October 2024, when we want to see if we can go with my son’s family,” he told Guinness. “But I have to see how I am doing then. I am getting older.”

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About the Author
Jenn Fields
Jenn Fields serves as Simplemost Media’s managing editor from Colorado, where she worked as a reporter and editor, on staff and as a freelancer, at newspapers and magazines. After earning her master’s from University of Missouri’s journalism school, Jenn worked in community journalism for 10 years, writing and editing for the Boulder Daily Camera and Denver Post. Over her 20-year career, she has covered a diverse range of topics, including travel, health and fitness, outdoor sports and culture, climate science, religion and plenty of other fascinating topics.

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