Two octogenarians are preparing to go head-to-head to determine who will hold the record for the oldest to summit Mt. Everest; 81-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan of Nepal and his 80-year-old rival Yuichiro Miura of Japan are both currently in Everest Base Camp on the South Side of the mountain. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, the two climbers will set out for the 29,029-foot summit as they both look to fulfill a dream of climbing Everest in their eighth decade. Setting a new mark for the oldest person to accomplish that feat would simply be icing on the cake.
Sherchan is the current record holder, having previously climbed Everest in 2008 at the age of 76. He managed to reach the top of the world’s tallest peak exactly one day before his Japanese counterpart, who was 75 at the time. That was Miura’s second successful summit as he also climbed the mountain in 2003 at the age of 70.
Unsurprisingly, the rivalry between these two climbers is a bit one-sided. Sherchan says that he hasn’t returned to Everest in an effort to keep his record but instead he simply wants to attempt to climb the mountain in his 80s. Miura on the other hand is quoted as saying, “records are meant to be broken.” Clearly he would relish the opportunity to claim this crown for himself. In order to do that, however, he must first reach the summit and then hope that Serchan does not.
The two men will soon get the opportunity to prove that they still have the strength and skill to pull off this difficult climb despite their advancing age. If everything goes as planned, the Sherpa team charged with fixing the ropes up the mountain will complete their work tomorrow. That will clear the way for the commercial climbing squads to begin their ascents once they get a clear weather window that will provide access to the summit. The forecast calls for high winds over the next few days, but things should start to improve early next week. After that, the two men will have their duel on the slopes.
[Photo Credit: Yuichiro Miura]
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.
[Photo Credit: KYODO]