Eighty-year-old Japanese skier and mountaineer Yuichiro Miura has announced his intentions to attempt a summit of Mt. Everest this spring, returning to a mountain that made him famous back in 1970. If successful, Miura would become the oldest person to ever climb the mountain and the first octogenarian to do so.
This won’t be Miura’s first visit to the world’s tallest mountain. He first climbed it back in 1970, stopping short of the summit because he had another goal in mind. As an accomplished high alpine skier, Miura had traveled to the Himalayan peak in an attempt to become the first person to ski down its slopes – something that had previously been unthinkable. But the Japanese man, who was 37 at the time, achieved his goal and inspired the Oscar-winning documentary “The Man Who Skied Down Everest.”
After completing his quest to ski the Seven Summits – the tallest peaks on each of the seven continents – in 1985, Miura then chose to lead a quieter life for some time. But as he grew older, the Himalaya called to him once more and in 2003 he declared that he would return to Everest, this time to climb all the way to the summit. He was 70 years old at the time and when he was successful in his attempt, he became the oldest person to accomplish that feat. He would return five years later to scale the mountain again at the age of 75 and staying on his five-year schedule he is returning this year as well.
At the summit of the 29,029-foot mountain, the air is so thin that it’s roughly one-third of what you find at sea level. That’s enough to make climbers half Miura’s age gasp for air while their legs scream out in exhaustion. The 80-year-old says that he’ll need to regain the strength and energy of a much younger man if he hopes to be successful. He describes his quest for a third summit of the mountain as the “best anti-aging” activity that he knows.
The spring climbing season on Everest begins in early April and will run into June. We’ll know then if it is possible for a man who has passed his 80th birthday to climb such a daunting peak.
There are two things you can say with certainty about polar explorer Lonnie Dupre. The man is certainly persistent in his pursuits and he has an undeniable affinity for the cold places of our planet. For the third straight year, Dupre has ventured to Denali (also known as Mt. McKinley) in Alaska to attempt a solo summit of the mountain in January – the coldest, darkest and harshest time of year on that unforgiving peak.
With a height of 20,320 feet, Denali is the tallest mountain in North America and a difficult climb under the best of conditions. Only 16 climbers have ever managed to reach its summit during the winter and none were able to accomplish that feat in January when temperatures routinely fall below -60°F and high winds pummel the mountain’s upper slopes. As if those conditions weren’t difficult enough, blizzards can rage for days, depositing heavy snow across the mountain and creating potentially deadly avalanches as well. In short, it is pretty much one of the most inhospitable places on the planet at the moment.
Dupre, who has visited the North Pole on two separate occasions and navigated the length of the Northwest Passage by dogsled, is clearly unphased by these challenges. As in years past, he is climbing with just the bare essential gear and supplies in an attempt to move as fast as possible. He hasn’t even bothered to bring a tent on the expedition choosing instead to dig a series of snow caves that he can use for shelter at various altitudes.Thus far the weather has been less than cooperative once again this season and Dupre spent the better part of the month waiting in the small town of Talkeetna for the skies to clear. Eventually conditions improved just enough for him to catch a flight out to the Kahiltna Glacier. From there, he was able to organize his gear and start the two-day trek to Base Camp, but so far he hasn’t been able to climb any higher than 8800 feet. A heavy storm has fallen across the region and according to Dupre’s support team at home, more than 7 feet of snow has fallen on his position in the past few days. That has made it impossible for him to climb any higher, as visibility as been reduced to almost nothing.
For now, our intrepid climber sits and waits for conditions to improve to see if he can actually make a serious attempt at the summit. In 2011 he was able to get as high as 17,200 feet and last year he reached 15,400 feet before being forced to turn back. Perhaps this time he is getting the bad weather out of the way early and it will clear up later in the month. Temperatures haven’t been nearly as bad as they were on his previous attempts either, so that is a promising sign for possible success should the snow ever stop falling.
Dupre is documenting his climb with the hopes of making a film about his adventure. But rather than wait for that film to be released down the line, you can follow his progress on his website now.
Standing 8611 meters (28,251 feet) in height, K2 is the second tallest mountain on the planet behind Everest. It also happens to be one of the most difficult and deadliest peaks as well, which has earned it nicknames such as the “Savage Mountain” and the “Mountaineer’s Mountain.” But last week the savage was tamed when a record-setting 28 people managed to successfully summit on a single day.
Located in a remote region of Pakistan’s Karakoram range, K2 is only accessible for a brief period of time each year during the summer. Climbers usually arrive in Base Camp around mid- to late-July with the hope of taking advantage of a narrow weather window to reach the summit. In years past Mother Nature has not been so cooperative, often keeping anyone from reaching the top. Last year, only four climbers managed to climb the mountain and they were the first since 2008 when 11 people were killed in a tragic accident.
2012 has not been a particularly good year for climbers in Pakistan, as unusually cold and wet weather prevented many teams from achieving their goals. But for those climbing on K2 last week the conditions were nearly perfect for making an ascent. As a result, a record number of mountaineers were able to reach the second-highest point on Earth and add one of the toughest mountains in the world to their resume.
So far this season there have been 30 total summits of K2 with a few climbers still hoping to top out in the next few days. To put that in perspective, there were nearly 500 successful summits of Everest this past spring, which is an indication of the difference in difficulty between the two peaks. Everest may be 237 meters (777 feet) taller but K2 is orders of magnitude more challenging.
It will be a very busy day today at the top of the world. After months of planning and weeks of preparation, today is the day that the climbers on Everest will begin heading up to the summit en masse. For most it will be the culmination of a lifelong dream to climb the highest mountain on Earth, for others it will simply be the latest climb in their pursuit of mountaineering greatness.
The road to a successful summit of Mt. Everest in May actually begins in March. That’s when teams of mountaineers first arrive in Kathmandu, Nepal, and start to make their way out to the remote Himalayan peak. If they’re climbing the most common route, from the South Side, they’ll first have to make an 8- to 10-day trek to Base Camp. They can also elect to climb from the North, which is generally less crowded, but in order to get there they’ll first have to cross the border into Tibet. Once they’ve made that crossing, however, they can actually reach BC by car.
After they’ve settled into their respective Base Camp, the process of acclimatization begins. By making a series of climbs up and down the mountain, going a little higher each time, the climbers prepare their bodies for the challenges of dealing with altitude. Slowly but surely they adjust to breathing less oxygen as they hone their technical skills and keep an eye on the weather. The climbers know they need the perfect window of opportunity to reach the summit, as misjudging the conditions can be fatal.That is where most teams have been for the past week or so. With their acclimatization completed, the climbers have been watching the forecast and waiting for high winds to die down just long enough to allow access to the top. That happened yesterday, which allowed the all-important Sherpa guides to complete their work of fixing the ropes to the summit. While they were busy doing just that, a talented team of Chilean climbers blitzed past them and nabbed the first successful summits of the season.
Now, with the ropes firmly in place, the rest of the climbers can begin heading up as well. Over the next few days, several hundred climbers will reach the top of the mountain from both the North and the South Sides. With a little luck they’ll all get up and down safely. After nearly two months away from home, they’ll be eager to pack up and get back to their lives.
The 2011 National Parkour Summit competition took place in Seattle, Washington. World class traceurs, including Levi Meeuwenberg, Frosti Zernow, Brian Orosco, and Tyson Cecka competed in speed competitions at Gasworks Park where two obstacle courses were set up. The first course was an Adult Open competition at Parkour Visions’ brand new gym, while the second was an Adult Invitational. Each participant was given two chances to run three timed courses. While competing, each traceur was able to learn about themselves as they created faster ways to overcome obstacles.