TOKYO — The 80-year-old Japanese mountaineer who is the oldest person to reach the top of Mount Everest says he almost died during his descent and does not plan another climb of the world’s highest peak, though he hopes to do plenty of skiing.
Yuichiro Miura, who also conquered the 29,035-foot peak when he was 70 and 75, returned to Japan today 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.
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.
Miura and his son Gota, who has climbed Everest twice, said things went well during the expedition because they carefully paced themselves, walking only half-days and resting in the afternoons.
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, 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 and water at the team’s 27,887-foot-high base camp.
“He just wouldn’t give up. This is the real strength of Yuichiro Miura,” said Gota of his father’s recovery and persistence in traveling another two and a half hours later in the day to reach their camp at 26,247 feet.
Miura was a daredevil speed skier in his youth, and skied down Everest’s South Col in 1970, using a parachute to brake his descent. He has also skied down Mt. Fuji.
Though he says he does not plan another Everest attempt, Miura says he hopes to do plenty of skiing and to “live life to the fullest.”
Sherchan became the oldest Everest climber in 2008 at age 76. He held the record until Miura’s ascent last week. His family members said Sherchan was planning to rest for now and hold a news conference in a few days to give his reasons for quitting the climb.