Alfredo Aliaga Burdio, a resilient 92-year-old adventurer, has made waves in the headlines and etched his name into the record books by accomplishing a truly remarkable feat—a nearly 24-mile hike across the iconic Grand Canyon in Arizona.
Burdio, who hails from Berlin, completed this awe-inspiring trek on October 15, 2023. In doing so, he secured the distinguished title of the oldest man to cross the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim on foot. This prestigious recognition was bestowed upon him by Guinness World Records on New Year’s Day.
His epic journey took 34 hours and 2 minutes. Of this, 21 hours and 15 minutes were dedicated to actual hiking time, quite a feat for anyone of any age. He began his trek at the North Rim Trailhead, embarking on an 11-hour and 15-minute hike to Phantom Ranch on the first day, followed by an additional 10 hours of hiking from Phantom Ranch to the South Rim Trailhead on the subsequent day.
This recent adventure marked Burdio’s first record-setting hike. However, the idea to attempt such a remarkable feat first dawned upon him during his previous Grand Canyon expedition with his son.
Inspired by the achievements of the esteemed Mr. John Jepkema, the former record holder, Burdio commenced his meticulous preparations in January 2023, diligently walking eight miles every day. Originally scheduled for early 2022, the attempt faced a temporary setback due to hazardous weather conditions, underscoring the unpredictable nature of such audacious endeavors.
Reflecting on the challenges of the hike, Burdio emphasized the significance of the role of mindset and his ability to embrace a steady and deliberate pace during strenuous moments, which played pivotal roles in conquering the arduous terrain.
Beyond the accolades and physical accomplishments, Burdio’s love for hiking emerged as a poignant tribute to his late wife, who succumbed to ALS in 2006. Following her passing, he embarked on a journey to revisit the places they had explored together, with a notable highlight being a rim-to-rim hike in the Grand Canyon with his daughter and 9-year-old grandson.
One of the most captivating aspects of Burdio’s recent odyssey was the camaraderie he experienced along the way. The support, kindness, and genuine happiness shared by fellow hikers and well-wishers on the trail left an indelible mark on his memory. Notably, a group of firefighters, moved by Burdio’s resilience, bestowed upon him an honorary membership in the Tucson Fire Department, a heartwarming gesture that added an extra layer of significance to his journey.
As he reflects on the monumental accomplishment, Burdio is quick to express his gratitude for the companions who joined him on this transformative expedition. Julian Coiner and Peter Todd, who willingly adapted to his pace and served as unwavering witnesses, epitomize the kindness and generosity that Burdio encountered during his trek.
Buoyed by the triumph of his recent venture, Burdio envisions another rendezvous with the Grand Canyon in 2024. Plans are already in motion, with a cabin reservation made for October, providing an opportunity for him to share the experience with his son’s family. Yet, ever humble and realistic about the passage of time, Burdio acknowledges that the decision to embark on such adventures is contingent on his well-being. In his own words, “I have to see how I am doing then. I am getting older.”
A testament to his unyielding spirit, Burdio’s story serves as an inspiring reminder that age should never be a barrier to embracing new challenges and savoring life’s grand adventures.