Karl Lagerberg greets you with a contagious
smile, a hardy handshake. Then he gives you his business card which reads:
Wilderness and Outdoor Activities; “Enjoyment Consultant.”
This “hard as nails” 74 year old lives
by what the card says! Karl believes in enjoying life outdoors——he is a
telemark skier (backcountry and resort), a climber, and a “heavy—duty”
backpacker. While living in an age group known more for atrophy, Karl perpetuates
his endless youth, and his devotion to family and religion by being on
the mountain tops.
Karl’s “first outdoor experience” came
at age four——picking berries in the woods for his mother in a small Swedish
fishing village on the Baltic Sea. He grew up hiking, skating, playing
hockey, sailing, canoeing, and rowing. But gymnastics was his passion.
This sport influenced him to become a proponent of living the “clean, simple
“When I was seventeen I became a vegetarian;
the people of my village thought I was crazy--I became the laughing stock.
However, I haven’t eaten a piece of red meat, fish, chicken or anything
like that since 1936——57 years!” It is a simplicity that resonates through
Karl completed his college physical
education degree in Sweden during World War II. While in college he met
and married Anna Margareta Ericsson. They emigrated to America in 1948
and settled in southern Utah where Karl worked as a carpenter and a contractor
until 1960. Then, the LDS Church sent the Lagerbergs on a two year mission
(which lasted eleven years) in Northern Europe. From 1972 until his retirement
Karl worked for the Building Division of the LDS Church in Salt Lake City.
Like careers will do, Karl’s job restricted
his outdoors ventures to Saturdays and vacation time. To enhance his position
in this common malady, he joined the Wasatch Mountain Club and the Sierra
Club. He kept in shape with daily early morning workouts which consisted
of running for 45 minutes, walking on his hands (for 65 “steps”), and doing
Karl’s persistence has paid off in
retirement: Last year he had 130 ski days. A typical winter day finds Karl
on one of his nineteen pairs of skis. Three days a week are spent telemarking
at a resort——usually Brighton where he skis free as a card carrying member
of “70+ Club. The other two ski days are “spent on tours up to Catherine
Pass, or up to Superior, or to Scotts Pass, or to Desolation Lake, Bear
Trap and that sort of thing.” When the weather moderates Anna joins him
for some cross-country skiing “on flatter terrain”.
To spice up the winter “routine” Karl
occasionally participates in winter adventures outside the Wasatch. Last
winter, for example, he and some buddies “did a winter hike of the Middle
Teton”. In May of 1990 he ascended and skied Sweden’s highest peak, Mt.
In the summer he steps up his activities. “From
May to November we hike about three times a week and then take off to spend
a week (Monday-Friday) hiking at places such as Mt. Whitney, Kings Peak,
the Tetons, Yellowstone, the Wind Rivers and in the fall, the Grand Canyon.
Between long backpacks is when I hike two or three times a week. Among
the trails in the Wasatch I do Timpanogos twice a years, Twin Peak once
or twice a year, try to get Lone Peak in, Pfeiferhorn several times--its
my favorite-—, and I have done Mt. Olympus over a hundred times.”
He has climbed the Grand Teton six
times, the last time was four years ago when he was 70 years old. In November
1987 he participated with a Swedish health organization in a walk from
the south rim of the Grand Canyon to Phoenix, a distance, he figures, of
about 300 miles. “There were fifteen of us and we hiked the back country
roads. Fun time. We ate no solid food; did it on a liquid diet to make
it more challenging--it felt just wonderful!”
Why all this activity? Is this a classic
example of avoiding responsibility? Not hardly! Plain and simple: I love
being on top of mountains——winter or summer, it doesn’t matter.”
He articulates his feelings on the
outdoors with passion and reverence. “I think God speaks to me through
Nature; through the creation, the beauty, the stillness, the harmony, and
the peace. There is no place that I feel closer to God than on a mountain
top.” This inspiration fuels his position as a Patriarch in the Salt Lake
Bonneville Stake of the LDS Church.
But as nature’s sanctity is continually
compromised for development, Karl worries that “money will always win.”
“There has to be moderation,” he says. “That is why I support the Sierra
Club, the Wasatch Club, and back—to—nature schools—-to slow down the destruction
His overall philosophy is Simplicity.
“Everything-simplicity! People make everything too complicated. In economy
for example, people spend more than they have. Live within your means.
I feel sorry for so many people who are tied up in so many unimportant
things. They need to live more.”
Northland explorer and guide Sigurd
Olson stated “simplicity in all things is the secret of the wilderness
and one of its most valuable lessons. When in the wilds, we must not carry
our problems with us or the joy is lost.” Karl Lagerberg has listened to
this message of the wilderness. Through simplicity, he has learned to live
fully and with joy.
The Sports Guide, April 1993
[Posted Jan 13 2002, tlr]