Yuichiro Miura climbed Everest the last time after undergoing four heart operations and suffering a shattered pelvis.
Yuichiro Miura became the oldest person to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 2003 at age 70. But then, a decade later, he beat his own record. On May 23, 2013, Miura climbed to the top of the mountain at 80-years-old. Not letting heart problems, fractured bones, or age get in his way, Miura’s endurance shows no signs of slowing down.
Yuichiro Miura’s Early Mountain Sports Adventures And First Everest Record
Yuichiro Miura set his first Everest record early. Born on Oct. 12, 1932 in Aoori, Japan, his father was the famous skier and mountaineer, Keizo Miura.
Yuichiro Miura followed in his father’s footsteps. In 1966 he skied Mount Fuji in Japan. He skied the highest peaks in Australia and North America in 1967. The next year, he became the first person to ski Mount Popocatepetl in Mexico.
On May 6, 1970, Miura stood at an altitude of more than 26,000 feet. With skis on his feet and a parachute strapped to his back, he descended down Mount Everest’s South Col– making him the first person to ski the world’s highest mountain.
“It seems to me that greater than the satisfaction of winning in competition, is the joy of forgetting yourself and becoming one with the mountains,” Miura said.
Climbing Everest For The First And Second Time
After the ski down Everest, Miura didn’t return to the mountain for 33 years. He continued a career both in skiing and in teaching it.
But by his 60s he experienced something of a life-crisis. He was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that increase stroke and heart disease risk. Miura was eating and drinking too much. He had a diabetic problem as well as heart and kidney disease. He also failed at an attempt to enter politics.
“I wanted to surprise everyone,” he said.
Miura spent years preparing before he took on the extreme endeavor in 2003. He was 70 years, 7 months and 10 days old when Miura became the oldest man to reach the summit of Mount Everest on May 22.
Miura did Everest again in 2008. That time, though, he didn’t achieve the same status of ‘oldest person.’ Miura was 75 and just a day before he reached the top, Min Bahadur Sherchan, who was 76-years-old, accomplished the feat. He did, however, claim to be the only man to accomplish the feat of climbing Everest twice in his 70s.
Some Minor Setbacks
After Yuichiro Miura’s 2008 climb, he encountered several medical problems. He had cardiac arrhythmia, which caused mayhem on his heart. After having to get two heart operations done, he took a year off to rest and recuperate.
He fractured his pelvis during a skiing accident in 2009, which also did damage to his left thigh bone. Doctors warned Miura that he might never walk properly again.
In 2012 his cardiac arrhythmia was triggered once again while climbing the mountain Lobuche East in Nepal. He had to return to Japan for another heart operation. He was hit with influenza around the same time, which stopped his heart entirely. Miura had to be carried to a hospital for an electric shock to restart it.
His fourth heart operation happened in January 2013.
But even after four heart operations, the shattered pelvis, and two Mount Everest climbs under his belt, Miura once again felt the mountain calling. It was the same year of his most recent heart operation. He was 80.
“I had a dream to climb Everest at this age, he said, adding, “if you have a dream, never give up. Dreams come true.”
Third Time’s A Charm: Miura Sets Out To Beat His Own Record
Miura underwent training, which started with a healthy diet. He then started physical training, including strapping weights to his legs and back and walking around five-and-a-half miles from the Tokyo Station to his office and back every day.
The air above 8,000 meters only has a third of the oxygen at sea level, the extreme cold can cause frostbite to any part of the body that’s exposed, and there’s extreme wind. Because of these factors, scientists say that the “physical body age” of a person at this level of the mountain adds an additional 70 years to their actual age. Meaning when Miura reached this point, he would feel 150-years-old.
Miura left Japan on March 20, 2013, less than three months after his latest heart operation. The first stage of the climb is the walk from Lukla to Base Camp. This time around, Miura adopted new tactics.
The previous two times Miura woke early in the morning and would trek all day. Taking his heart condition into consideration the third time, he would walk for half a day then have lunch and take an hour nap. When they reached Base Camp, he felt fine.
“My legs and whole body were in the best possible condition,” he said.
Miura and his team left for the climb from Base Camp to the summit on May 16. They were lucky to have good climbing conditions with clear skies, but his team was still amazed by his endurance.
Miura’s wife and daughter had been waiting nervously for news. The team made the final stretch to the top on the morning of May 23.
Yuichiro Miura was right; his dream did come true. On May 23, 2013, he became the oldest person (again) to ever reach the summit of Mount Everest. He was ten years older than the first time he achieved the title.
“When I reached the summit it all sank in. I could not believe it – I was standing there for about an hour,” he said. Even though he was exhausted, he described it as the world’s best feeling. He was with his son, Gota. They called his Tokyo-based support team from the summit and Miura said into the phone, “I made it!”
The adventure isn’t over for Miura. When he turns 85 he plans to ski down Cho Oyu, the sixth-highest mountain in the world. When he turns 90, he plans to launch a fourth bid to climb Everest.