Japanese Who Skied Everest Summits Again at 80

A man who became famous in 1970 by skiing down Mt. Everest completed his third summit of the world’s highest peak at the record age of 80.

Upon reaching the 29,029-foot summit at 9:05 a.m. local time Yuichiro Miura and his son Gota made a phone call to his daughter Emili.

“I made it!” Miura said over the phone. “I never imagined I could make it to the top of Mount Everest at age 80. This is the world’s best feeling, although I’m totally exhausted. Even at 80, I can still do quite well.”

Emili, whose reaction was being broadcast live over NHK, smiled and clapped.

“It is to challenge [my] own ultimate limit,” Miura had written on his expedition website. “It is to honor the great Mother Nature. And if the limit of age 80 is at the summit of Mt. Everest, the highest place on earth, one can never be happier.”

The feat was all the more meaningful for Miura because in January he had had heart surgery to correct his irregular heartbeat. That was his fourth heart operation since 2007. He had also suffered a broken pelvis and left thigh bone in a 2009 skiing accident.

Miura has built his life around implausible feats of daring and endurance. In his youth he built a reputation as a daredevil skier, following in the footsteps of his father Keizo Miura, another legendary skier. In 1970 Yuichiro skied down 4,000 vertical feet from Everest’s South Col. The slope is steep enough to require him to use a parachute to slow his descent. The feat was immortalized in the 1975 documentary “The Man Who Skied Down Everest”. The film became the first sports documentary to win an Oscar.

This was Miura’s third time on the summit of Everest. Miura first summited Everest at the age of 70 and set a record as the oldest to perform the feat. At the age of 75 he became the only man to make the climb twice in his 70s. His second ascent, which occurred in 2008, was partially overshadowed by the successful summit a day earlier by a 76-year-old Nepali climber Min Bahadur Sherchan.

Sherchan, now 81, threatens to overshadow Miura’s feat yet again by summiting Everest next week. On Wednesday Sherchan had said during a call from base camp that he was “ready to take up the challenge.” He said he was in good health now despite the severe digestive problems he had suffered several days ago.