May 22, 2013

Octogenarians race to be oldest Everest climber

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Conditions should be favorable Wednesday and Thursday, but they were expected to deteriorate after Friday, said Shrestha, the mountaineering official at base camp.

Sherchan's team is also facing financial difficulties. It hasn't received the financial help that the Nepal government announced it would provide them. Purna Chandra Bhattarai, chief of Nepal's mountaineering department, said the aid proposal was still under consideration.

Miura faced difficulties of his own.

He fractured his pelvis and left thigh bone in a 2009 skiing accident, and had an operation in January for an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, his fourth heart surgery since 2007, according to Emili Miura.

His daughter said Miura decided to go ahead with the expedition despite the surgery because he felt that at age 80, he was running out of time.

"If he was in his 60s, he probably would have waited for another year or two, but at the age of 80 he's not getting any younger. He has a strong determination that now is the time," she said in a phone interview.

On his ascent, Miura made a stop at the rarely used Camp 5 to take a break between the South Col and the summit. Almost all the climbers these days walk straight from Camp 4 to the summit.

Miura was well-known long before his late-in-life mountaineering pursuits.

He was a daredevil speed skier who 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."

In 1964, he briefly set a world speed skiing record in the Italian Alps, reaching 172 kilometers per hour (107 mph). He also skied down Mt. Fuji using parachutes.

It wasn't until Miura was 70, however, that he first climbed all the way to the summit of Everest. When he summited again at 75, he claimed to be the only man to accomplish the feat twice in his 70s. After that, he said he was determined to climb again at age 80.

Miura is accompanied on the expedition by his son Gota, a two-time Olympian skier. Gota Miura, 43, summited Everest in 2003 with his father, but had to turn back short of the summit in 2008 due to symptoms of high altitude cerebral edema.

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