Eighty-year-old Japanese skier and mountaineer Yuichiro Miura
has announced his intentions to attempt a summit of Mt. Everest this spring,
returning to a mountain that made him famous back in 1970. If successful,
Miura would become the oldest person to ever climb the mountain and the first
octogenarian to do so.
This won't be Miura's first visit to the world's tallest mountain. He first
climbed it back in 1970, stopping short of the summit because he had another
goal in mind. As an accomplished high alpine skier, Miura had traveled to the
Himalayan peak in an attempt to become the first person to ski down its slopes
– something that had previously been unthinkable. But the Japanese man, who
was 37 at the time, achieved his goal and inspired the Oscar-winning
documentary "The Man Who Skied Down Everest."
After completing his quest to ski the Seven Summits – the tallest peaks on
each of the seven continents – in 1985, Miura then chose to lead a quieter
life for some time. But as he grew older, the Himalaya called to him once more
and in 2003 he declared that he would return to Everest, this time to climb
all the way to the summit. He was 70 years old at the time and when he was
successful in his attempt, he became the oldest person to accomplish that
feat. He would return five years later to scale the mountain again at the age
of 75 and staying on his five-year schedule he is returning this year as well.
At the summit of the 29,029-foot mountain, the air is so thin that it's
roughly one-third of what you find at sea level. That's enough to make
climbers half Miura's age gasp for air while their legs scream out in
exhaustion. The 80-year-old says that he'll need to regain the strength and
energy of a much younger man if he hopes to be successful. He describes his
quest for a third summit of the mountain as the "best anti-aging" activity
that he knows.
The spring climbing season on Everest begins in early April and will run into
June. We'll know then if it is possible for a man who has passed his 80th
birthday to climb such a daunting peak.