May 23, 2013 in Nation/World

Japanese climber, 80, tops Everest

Miura has reached summit three times
Binaj Gurubacharya Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura, right, and his son, Gota, are seen Wednesday at their South Col camp at 26,247 feet during their successful attempt to scale Mount Everest.
(Full-size photo)

KATMANDU, Nepal – An 80-year-old Japanese mountaineer today became the oldest person to reach the top of Mount Everest – although his record may last only a few days. An 81-year-old Nepalese man, who held the previous record, plans his own ascent next week.

Yuichiro Miura, who also conquered the 29,035-foot peak when he was 70 and 75, reached the summit at 9:05 a.m. local time today, according to a Nepalese mountaineering official and Miura’s Tokyo-based support team.

Miura and his son Gota called them from the summit.

“I made it!” Miura said on the 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.”

The climbers planned to stick around the summit for about half an hour, take photos and then start to descend, his office said.

Nepalese mountaineering official Gyanendra Shrestha, at Everest base camp, confirmed that Miura had reached the summit, making him the oldest person to do so.

Miura conquered the mountain despite undergoing heart surgery in January for irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, his fourth heart operation since 2007, according to his daughter. He also fractured his pelvis and left thigh bone in a 2009 skiing accident.

Miura became famous when he was a young man as a daredevil speed skier.

He skied down Everest’s South Col in 1970, using a parachute to brake his descent. The feat was captured in the Oscar-winning 1975 documentary, “The Man Who Skied Down Everest.” He has also skied down Mount Fuji.

The previous oldest to climb Everest was Nepal’s Min Bahadur Sherchan, who accomplished the feat at age 76 in 2008, just a day before Miura reached the top at age 75.

Sherchan, now 81, was preparing to scale the peak next week despite digestive problems he suffered several days ago. On Wednesday, Sherchan said by telephone from the base camp that he was in good health and “ready to take up the challenge.”

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