80-year-old says he nearly died on Everest descent

Yuichiro Miura, at 80 the oldest conqueror of Mount Everest, greeted fans as he returned to Tokyo Wednesday.
Itsuo Inouye/associated Press
Yuichiro Miura, at 80 the oldest conqueror of Mount Everest, greeted fans as he returned to Tokyo Wednesday.

TOKYO — The 80-year-old Japanese mountaineer who last week became the oldest person to reach the top of Mount Everest said he almost died during his descent and does not plan another climb of the peak, though he hopes to do plenty of skiing.

Yuichiro Miura, a onetime daredevil skier who also conquered the 29,035-foot peak when he was 70 and 75, returned to Japan on Wednesday looking triumphant but ready for a rest. He was sympathetic toward an 81-year-old Nepalese climber who on Tuesday abandoned his attempt to climb Everest, and break Miura’s record, due to worsening weather.

Min Bahadur Sherchan, the Nepalese mountaineer, faced difficult odds due to the brief climbing window remaining after delays in getting funding for his own ascent, Miura said.


‘‘He is to be pitied,’’ said Miura, who had downplayed any talk of a rivalry.

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Sherchan became the oldest Everest climber in 2008 at age 76 and held the record until Miura’s ascent last week.

The Nepalese climber said he slipped and fell just above the base camp three days earlier, hurting his ribs, so he was airlifted back to Katmandu, Nepal, where he saw a doctor.

He plans to try again to regain his record, perhaps next year. ‘‘I still have a few more years to make my attempts. I will try until I reach 84 and then quit,’’ Sherchan said.

Wednesday was also the 60th anniversary of the conquest of Everest. It was marked in Katmandu with a ceremony honoring climbers who followed in the steps of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.


Miura and his son Gota, who has climbed Everest twice, said their expedition went well because they carefully paced themselves, walking only half-days and resting in the afternoons. ‘‘We took our time. You get tired when you are old,’’ he said.

But Miura said he was dangerously weak at the beginning of his May 23 descent. Though he felt fine after he removed his oxygen mask on the summit to pose for photos and enjoy the view, he suffered for it on the way down. ‘‘I lost strength in my legs,’’ Miura said. ‘‘I could not move at all.’’

Helped down by Gota and others, Miura revived after having some food at the team’s 27,887-foot -high base camp.

Associated Press