On Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 9:05 in the morning, 80-year-old Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura became the oldest person to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. Miura broke the previous old-age record by four years.
Previous age record-holder is Nepalese climber Min Bahadur Sherchan, who climbed Mount Everest in 2008 at age 76. He was actually poised this May to also climb Everest again at age 81 but some digestive problems and other ailments forced him to abandon his attempt.
"I made it!" exclaimed Miura in Japanese on a satellite phone call from the summit of Mount Everest. "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."
Miura ascended the mountain with nine other climbers, including his 43-year-old son Gota, two Japanese climbers, and six Sherpas. Following the South Col route, the original route pioneered by the successful 1953 British expedition which deposited Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on the summit 60 years ago, the party did the last segment from the South Col to the summit in seven hours.
Yuichiro Miura is no stranger to Mount Everest. He had previously reached Everest's summit at ages 70 and 75 but previously had skied off the mountain from the South Col in 1970 when he was one of the world's best extreme skiers. His quick descent was documented in an Academy Award-winning film called "The Man Who Skied Down Everest." Later Miura skied down the rest of the Seven Summits as well as Mount Fuji.
Now, after his successful octogenarian ascent of Mount Everest, Yuichiro Miura has plans to ski down Cho Oyu, the sixth highest mountain in the world, and then to perhaps return to Everest for an ascent at age 85. Miura is an amazing athlete who endures and dreams despite some health ailments including four heart surgeries (the latest for arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat several months ago) and a bad ski accident in 2009. He says he challenges his "ultimate limit."
On his website, Miura writes of his Everest ascent, "It is to honor the great Mother Nature. Hoping to raise even an inch of human possibility." Yuichiro Miura, you've raised the bar greater than an inch. We appreciate your humble approach, great aspirations, perseverance, and personal challenge.
Photograph above: Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura climbing on May 23, his Mount Everest summit day. Photograph courtesy Facebook/ Yuichiro Miura Everest 2013.