May 23, 2013
80-Year Old Japanese Man Becomes Oldest To Conquer Everest
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
When some people envision life in their 80s, they picture lounging on a beach in Florida with a coconut-flavored cocktail in their hand. However, Japanese octogenarian Yuichiro Miura decided to take a completely different route into old age.
This week, Miura became the oldest man to scale Mt. Everest, using the same route Sir Edmund Hillary traversed almost 60 years ago to the day.
"This is the best feeling in the world," Miura said in a phone call to his family from the summit. "I never imagined I would become the oldest man to get here, at 80. There's no greater feeling in life, but I've never felt this tired either."
While this is the third climb to the top of Everest for Miura, the ascent is even more impressive considering his age and medical history. The 80-year-old climber has undergone four heart surgeries to treat chronic arrhythmias, the last one just two months before leaving for Everest. He also suffered a broken pelvis and fractured thigh in a 2009 skiing accident.
When scaling the 45-degree ice wall known as the Lhotse Face, Miura reportedly climbed quicker than younger climbers in a different party. The most treacherous part of the climb up Everest began at about 23,000 feet, when Miura started inhaling oxygen from a tank.
Accompanied by his 43-year-old son, two other countrymen, and six Nepali sherpas, Muira set out for the last leg of his Everest climb, referred to as the “death zone,” around 2 a.m. local time. He reached the summit in about seven hours.
Miura said his motivation for the grueling journey was to test his physical and mental limits.
"It is to honor the great Mother Nature," he said on his website. "Hoping to raise even an inch of human possibility."
Although the mountain might seem like an old friend to Miura by now, he didn't attempt his first climb until he was 70 years old in 2003. That trek already set a world record for the oldest climber to successfully scale the mountain. He returned five years later to break his own record.
However, that ascent appears to be the beginning of a fierce rivalry as Nepal's Min Bahadur Sherchan made the climb to the top of Everest one day before Miura in 2008, at the age of 76 and 340 days, according to the Guinness World Records site. Now 81, the Nepalese climber is currently planning yet another record-breaking trip to the summit.
As for Miura, he is planning a different sort of alpine adventure — skiing down the sixth highest mountain in the world, the Himalayan mountain of Cho Oyu. Miura said he hopes to take on that endeavor in five years, when he is 85.
As for his 80-year-old wife Tomoko, she said that she has mixed feelings about her husband´s world-class adventures.
"I'm not sure if I am happy or not to have a husband who has so many dreams," she told reporters. "He is the kind of person who does whatever he believes in, no matter what other people say."