By Mark Magnier
Los Angeles Times (MCT)
---- — NEW DELHI — Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura broke the record for the oldest person to climb Mount Everest when the 80-year-old reached the summit at 9 a.m. yesterday, according to his website.
But the octogenarian may not be able to bask in the limelight long. There are reports that Nepalese climber Min Bahadur Sherchan, 81, is planning an assault on the world’s highest peak next week, despite some recent intestinal problems.
Sherchan frustrated Miura’s record-setting ambitions once before when, in May 2008, Miura tackled the mountain at the age of 75, only to arrive at the top a day after Sherchan’s ascent at age 76 years and 340 days.
This is Miura’s third summit of the 29,028-foot peak. He also earned the oldest-climber title in 2003, at age 70, a milestone broken four years later when fellow Japanese climber Katsusuke Yanagisawa reached the top at age 71.
But at least for now, Miura is expressing nothing but satisfaction with his accomplishment.
“This is the best feeling in the world,” said an entry on his Facebook page. “How could I have come so far at the world’s oldest age of 80, I’ve never felt like this in my life. But I’ve never been more exhausted than this.”
A posting on Miura’s website yesterday evening said he had descended to 26,180 feet on his way to base camp, which is at about 17,400 feet.
The veteran adventurer also hit the spotlight in 1970 when he became the first person to ski down Everest with help from a parachute, a feat documented in the 1975 Academy Award-winning documentary “The Man Who Skied Down Everest.”
Fellow climbers hailed his latest accomplishment.
“I’m extremely happy that a man who’s 80 years old could do this,” said Rajeev Kumar Sharma, former deputy director of a state-owned adventure sports training center in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh who climbed Everest in 1993 at age 38. “It’s just amazing — what willpower to accomplish such a goal at his age.”
But Sharma and others also criticized the obsession with setting records, the growing amount of garbage left on the Everest trail and the strain of so many people ascending the pristine mountain.
“Everest is under threat from more and more human activity,” he said. “The Nepalese tourism ministry should give thought to that. So many people shouldn’t be allowed to go. It’s a big strain on the environment.”