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'On Top Of The World' At 80: Japanese Climber Summits Everest

A Japanese mountaineer has become the oldest person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest, as Yuichiro Miura, 80, reached the 29,035-foot peak Thursday morning. The feat marks Miura's third time atop Mount Everest; he previously climbed the mountain at ages 70 and 75.

As in 2008, Miura's accomplishment is in danger of being surpassed by his main rival, Nepalese climber Min Bahadur Sherchan, 81. But that possibility didn't seem to bother Miura Thursday, who was joined by his son, Gota, on the climb.

"I'm feeling on top of the world," Miura said by satellite phone, according to the Kyodo news agency. "Even at the age of 80, I can go on and on."

While Miura celebrated at the top of Everest, his rival, Sherchan, was already at the mountain's basecamp, preparing for his own attempt.

"Sherchan, now 81, was preparing to scale the peak next week despite digestive problems he suffered several days ago," the AP reports. "On Wednesday, Sherchan said by telephone from the base camp that he was in good health and 'ready to take up the challenge.'"

The world's highest sushi bar: On Tuesday, Yuichiro Miura, right, and his son made hand-wrapped sushi on the side of Mount Everest, at the fourth campsite during their climb to the top. The photo won many fans on Facebook.
/ Yuichiro MIURA Everest 2013
The world's highest sushi bar: On Tuesday, Yuichiro Miura, right, and his son made hand-wrapped sushi on the side of Mount Everest, at the fourth campsite during their climb to the top. The photo won many fans on Facebook.

On his Facebook page, Sherchan posted a news story by China's state media Xinhua today, confirming that Nepal's government will give 1 million rupees (more than $11,200) to fund Sherchan's effort.

"It costs close to 40,000 U.S. dollars for one attempt, a huge amount for a Nepali where per capita income is around 420 dollars," Xinhua reports.

Regardless of events this week, Miura has solidified his place in the record books. In 1970, he became the first person to ski down Mount Everest (from the 8,000-meter mark). He has also skied down other tall mountains.

The two octogenarians were in their 20s when Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to reach Everest's summit nearly 60 years ago, in the 1953 climbing season.

Last year, Japan's Tamae Watanabe, 73, became the world's oldest woman to scale the mountain, breaking her own record, set when she was 63.

Some 3,000 people have conquered Everest since 1953 — and this year, several notable records have been set. The Washington Post has a rundown, which includes the first twins to climb the peak, and the first Saudi woman to summit Everest.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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