Yuichiro Miura, a Japanese mountaineer, became the oldest person to reach the summit of Mount Everest at the age of 80, and, while the climb up was difficult, Miura said the descent nearly killed him.
Miura had previously scaled Mount Everest two other times, at the age of 70 and five years late at the age of 75, and he returned to the mountain last week to climb the 29,035 feet needed to reach the peak, the Associated Press reports. After conquering Mt. Everest for a third time, Miura promised to take it easy after the descent nearly cost him his life.
Miura began his descent of Mt. Everest on May 23 and, speaking at a press conference at Clark Memorial International High School in Tokyo, described the incredibly journey downward. Miura said he was incredibly weak after reaching the summit, soon losing strength in his legs, saying, “I could not move at all.” Miura was helped by his son, Gota, an experienced mountaineer who has scaled Mt. Everest twice, and a team of experienced climbers throughout his journey, AP notes.
Miura took a necessary break at base camp, eating food and drinking water to help regain his lost strength, and continued to hike two-and-a-half hours to the team’s base camp located at 26,247 feet. Gota said of his father, “He just wouldn't give up,” AP notes.
Prior to reaching the summit of Mount Everest for a third time, Miura was facing his own health issues. Miura had four heart surgeries before this latest attempt, Reuters reports. In order to prepare for the grueling climb, Miura hiked in Tokyo with weighted gear and would spend time on a treadmill inside a specially designed low-oxygen room within his home.
Miura’s record-setting Mount Everest climb was noteworthy for several reasons. In addition to become the oldest man to reach the summit, Raha Moharrak became the first Saudi Arabian woman to reach the peak, and 30-year-old Sudarshan Gautam became the first double amputee to reach the summit, Reuters notes.
Gautam lost both arms in an accident while flying a kite in Kathmandu, Nepal. The kite became tangled in electrical wiring overhead, and Gautam used an iron rod to free the kite, causing the Nepali-born Canadian to be electrocuted. Gautam suffered severe burns to both of his arms, which led to the double amputation.
Risk-taking runs in Miura’s family as the mountaineer described skiing Mont Blanc in the Alps with his 99-year-old father during the press conference. When not scaling mountains, Miura enjoys skiing down them, having skied down Mount Everest, Mount Fuji and Mount Kosciusko in Australia, as well as Mount McKinley in North America. Miura has skied down the highest mountain in all seven continents, and the documentary that captured his trip down Mount Everest in 1970, “The Man Who Skied Down Everest,” won an Oscar for Best Documentary.
The man whose record now belongs to Miura, Min Bahadur Sherchan, attempted to reclaim his title on Saturday. Sherchan became the oldest man to climb Mount Everest five years ago, at the age of 76, and attempted to reach the summit at the age of 81. Due to injury, Sherchan canceled his attempts to reach Mount Everest’s peak but promised to continue trying for at least three more years. Miura did not describe Sherchan as a rival and said during the press conference that the 81-year-old climber’s trip was going to be difficult due to the small amount of time before typhoon season, AP notes.
Miura will continue to ski and hopes to keep skiing with future generations of his family.