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Japanese Man, 80, Seeks Third Mt. Everest Ascent

  • Mike Richman

Yuichiro Miura on his way to the summit of Mount Everest, along the Nepal-Tibet border, May 2003 (Courtesy of Miura Dolphins).

Yuichiro Miura on his way to the summit of Mount Everest, along the Nepal-Tibet border, May 2003 (Courtesy of Miura Dolphins).

Yuichiro Miura lives by the motto that nothing is impossible. For him, that includes climbing Mount Everest at age 80.

The 80-year-old Japanese adventurer plans to ascend Everest, the world's tallest peak, for the third time next month.

The Everest route for Yuichiro Miura’s 2013 climb. Courtesy Miura Dolphins​

The Everest route for Yuichiro Miura’s 2013 climb. Courtesy Miura Dolphins​

He reached the summit of the Himalayan mountain at age 70 and at 75. If successful this time, he will set the record for the oldest person to climb the 8,848-meter peak.

The record, however, is not what motivates Miura, who is instead curious about coping at his age in the frigid temperatures, thin air and low oxygen levels in the Himalayas. Those conditions, he believes, will add 70 years to his physical body age once he reaches the summit.

His daughter, Emili Miura, says he will thus feel like he is 150 years old.

"No mankind ever lived that long, that old, and he’s so curious to know how it would be like," she said. "He would like to know what is the limit, what is the possibility, potential of humankind.”

'Infinite possibilities'

Emili Miura also says her father believes that every goal one sets is within reach.

“He said that if you set up your objective, there is infinite possibilities," she said. "If you stop, the possibilities stop. That's his philosophy."

Yuichiro Miura at the Mount Everest summit, May 26, 2008 (courtesy of Miura Dolphins).

Yuichiro Miura at the Mount Everest summit, May 26, 2008 (courtesy of Miura Dolphins).

Yuichiro Miura's climb is daunting for reasons besides age. He has had three heart operations in recent years and suffered a broken pelvis and fractured thigh in a 2009 ski accident. Despite his age and ailments, daughter Emili said she and her family fully support his climb.

Frits Vrijlandt, 45, head of the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation, reached the Everest summit at age 33. He said he would not recommend that 80-year-old climbers try to do the same. Even much younger people, if not trained climbers, can pass out there in five minutes and die in an hour.

"It will never be easy for him. It will be difficult, but how difficult I don’t know," Vrijlandt said. "The one thing I hope [is] that he survives the whole trip because at this age — undergoing three heart surgeries, three times — it doesn’t sound very healthy. But he can be very strong. He’s very determined. So we’ll see.”

Steadfast determination aside, though, Vrijlandt says there is no scientific evidence to support Miura's belief that his body will age 70 years.

"Yeah, everybody has his personal reasons of climbing Mount Everest, and they’re all different reasons," Vrijlandt said. "So my personal comment is, 'yeah, it's difficult to understand, but, [for him], this is ... a reason.'”

Training for the climb

Yuichiro Miura is training by climbing areas of the Himalayas up to 5,500 meters. He has also spent time walking with nine kilograms of weight on his ankles and up to 18 kilograms in a backpack.

Yuichiro Miura and his son, Gota, summit at Mount Everest, May 22, 2003 (Miura Dolphins).

Yuichiro Miura and his son, Gota, summit at Mount Everest, May 22, 2003 (Miura Dolphins).

On his ascent next month, he and his team will take a route on the southwest side of Everest in Nepal. His 43-year-old son, Gota Miura, a photographer and another experienced Japanese climber, also aim to reach the summit. Other climbers will carry equipment. The group is expected to take seven days to reach the top.

Emili Miura says after this attempt, her father may try to conquer Everest again.

"Please, don’t tell him that," she said. "For the family members, every time he goes to Everest, we hope this is going to be the last time, but he always comes back with the next objective."

For Yuichiro Miura, there is always another goal. He believes that nothing is impossible.

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