Japanese climber becomes oldest to climb Mount Everest at age 80


Yuichiro Miura atop Mount Everest in a previous climb. Photo from Miura’s Facebook page

Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura, despite enduring his fourth heart surgery in January, recaptured the title of oldest person to climb Mount Everest on Thursday, though he might not hold the record for long.

Miura, at age 80, summited the tallest mountain on Earth, successfully climbing the 29,035-foot peak for the third time. He previously conquered Mount Everest at ages 70 and 75.

"I made it!" Miura told Associated Press by phone. "I never imagined I could make it to the top of Mount Everest at age 80. This is the world's best feeling, although I'm totally exhausted. Even at 80, I can still do quite well."

At age 70, Miura became the oldest person to climb Everest, but that title was taken from him four years later by fellow Japanese climber Katsusuke Yanagisawa, who was 71.

When Miura climbed Everest at age 75, it came a day after Min Bahadur Sherchan of Nepal completed the feat at age 76.

It was Sherchan's age record, recognized by Guinness World Records, that Miura broke Thursday. But Sherchan is preparing to make another summit bid next week at age 81.

It's no cinch, however. The Associated Press reported that Sherchan was planning to try to scale the mountain despite digestive problems he suffered several days ago. He told AP on Wednesday from base camp that he was in good health and "ready to take up the challenge."

It was also reported that Sherchan's team faced financial difficulties and that it hadn't yet received the financial help that the Nepal government said it would provide. So maybe Miura's record will stand for a while.

Miura first made worldwide headlines in 1970 when he became the first to ski down Everest from a point at 26,246 feet in the South Col with the aid of a parachute. His father, Keizo, who lived to age 101, skied down 15,781-foot Mont Blanc in Western Europe--at age 99.

To produce the latest headline, Miura, who summited Thursday with his son Gota, has had to conquer adversity. Not only has Miura overcome four heart surgeries--the most recent one for an irregular heartbeat earlier this year--he has also recovered from a fractured pelvis and left thigh bone suffered in a 2009 skiing accident.

Miura's next headline remains to be seen, but we certainly wouldn't put anything past him.

Min Bahadur Sherchan with Guinness WR banner

Min Bahadur Sherchan with his Guinness World Record for being the oldest to climb Mount Everest at age 76. Photo from his Facebook page