Japanese Man Becomes Oldest Person Ever to Scale Mt. Everest (June 12, 2003)
On May 22 Yuichiro Miura, 70, became the oldest person
ever to climb Mount Everest, which, at 8,850 meters (29,035 feet), is the world's
highest mountain. Climbing Mt. Everest is both difficult and dangerous. Because
there is only about 30% as much oxygen as at sea level, climbers refer to altitudes
in excess of 8,000 meters (26,245 feet) as the "death zone." When the
brain is starved of oxygen, a person's decision-making capability tends to drop,
and even some experienced climbers have lost their lives because of mistakes made
under these conditions. In addition, even a fit young climber needs to stop for
breath every few steps at this altitude. At age 70, though, Miura coped just fine.
He made a call on a satellite phone from the summit, saying, "It was my dream.
But by walking step by step, I was able to accomplish it and stand at the highest
point on Earth." Miura's courageous achievement impressed many people around
|Miura and his team at the highest point on Earth. (Miura dolphines/Jiji)
Extreme Skiing on Seven Continents
After graduating from Hokkaido University many years ago, Miura became a professional
skier. He took part in the Italian Kilometer Lanciad in 1964, where he set what
was then the world speed record at 172.084 kilometers per hour (106.9 miles per
hour). He later skied down Mt. Fuji and in 1970 skied down Mt. Everest from an
altitude of 8,000 meters (26,245 feet), the first time anyone had done so successfully.
By 1985, he had skied down the slopes of the tallest mountain on each of the seven
Skiing is a family affair for the Miuras. This past February, to celebrate his
father's ninety-ninth birthday, Miura, his father Keizo, and his 37-year-old son
Yuta, who was once an alternate on Japan's Olympic downhill ski team, traveled
to the French Alps, where they skied down Mont Blanc's Valle Blanche together.
The course was roughly 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) long.
Despite his many skiing accomplishments, though, Miura had always dreamed of climbing
Mt. Everest. He began planning an ascent five years ago, and he trained hard to
get himself into shape. This year just happened to be the fiftieth anniversary
of the first successful scaling of Mt. Everest by New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary
and Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
Breaking a Record
The expedition went as planned at the beginning, and on May 11 Miura and his group
set out from base camp at 5,300 meters (17,388 feet), aiming to scale the mountain
from the Nepalese side. Afterwards, though, the weather turned bad, with heavy
winds and snow, and the team was forced to postpone its assault on the summit
repeatedly; this meant spending four days in the high-altitude "death zone."
The weather finally cleared, and the team set out from the No. 5 camp at 8,400
meters (27,559 feet) for the final leg of the ascent. Miura, his 33-year-old son
Gota, and 46-year-old cameraman Noriyuki Muraguchi reached the summit that day.
At age 70, Miura became the oldest climber ever to scale
Mt. Everest, bettering the previous record held by another Japanese, Tomiyasu
Ishikawa, who accomplished the feat at the age of 65 in May 2002. This occasion
also marked the first time that two generations of a Japanese family had scaled
Mt. Everest together.
Fifty Years After Hillary
After safely descending the mountain, Miura arrived in Nepal's capital, Katmandu,
at the end of May. Just then, festivities marking the fiftieth anniversary of
Hillary's ascent were underway. Nepal's King Gyanendra offered his congratulations
to Miura, saying, "That was incredible," and Miura received a message
from Hillary himself, who was present: "You really did a great job. You have
a true adventurous spirit."
Miura made history, and he left a message for the rest of us about life: "No
matter how old people are, they can still hold on to their dreams. You have to
continue to make an effort to turn your dreams into reality. I learned that if
you keep heart and take one small step after another, you can stand on top of
Copyright (c) 2004 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.
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