Early last year, after a thrice a week round of physical therapy for severe pain in the knees and achilles tendon, I started dayhiking and then backpacking again after a lapse of ten years, much aided by new much lighter equipment. I set my sights on a five-day winter ascent of Mt. Adams, second highest mountain in the Northast, which I hadn't been able to get up in a dozen years.
There were reports of 3-5 feet of snow and my buddies strongly suggested I take my snowshoes, which I hadn't used with a pack on in many years. I told them it would be hard enough to make it in boots and that I couldn't imagine making it in snowshoes. Nonetheless, at their insistence, I threw the snowshoes in the truck. At the trailhead I was postholing up to my hips and said that I would stay in a motel while they hiked. Again at their insistence, I put on my snowshoes and started snowshoeing up the trail, which is fairly steep in places, with five days worth of equipment and food in my pack. We made it to the RMC cabin we were staying in and I was beat but just so proud of myself for making it at 63 years old. The next day we ascended the summit, snowshoes all the way, and I was even prouder.
When we returned to the cabin, five new folks had arrived and they looked older. Their ages: 62, 68, 69, 72, and 74. The 69er was woman! My pride was seriously tempered by seeing all of them come in on their snowshoes. The next day we all ascended Adams and then those five elderly! hikers went over to Jefferson and didn't make it back to the cabin until nearly three hours after dark. Nonetheless, I was so happy being in my beloved alpine zone again, with the wind howling and the snow blowing.
The key is getting into condition and staying in condition. Age and physical issues can be a problem, but as Nietsche noted, in the overcoming there is the greatest joy.