The five-mile high octogenarian contest: 80-year-old man begins quest to become oldest man to climb Mount Everest... but 81-year-old rival also seeks title

Yuichiro Miura, 80, who has had heart surgery four times is already in the oxygen-deficient 'death zone'

Call it the five-mile high octogenarian contest the likes of which have never been seen before.

Or at least not since five years ago, when two rival mountaineers, now aged in the 80s, previously did battle on the slopes of Mount Everest when they were both in their relatively youthful 70s.

On Wednesday it was revealed that Japanese climber and extreme skier, Yuichiro Miura, aged 80, was already in Everest’s “death zone” above 8,000 metres, where oxygen thins and the smallest mistake or flux in the weather can turn fatal.

Yet if he did not have enough to worry about, it emerged that close on his heels is the 81-year-old Nepalese man, Min Bahadur Sherchan, who snuck in before him back in 2008 to claim the record for the oldest climber.

On his website, the Japanese climber has explained that he is trying to push himself to the very limits of what is possible, both for himself and people of his age. He said his climb is partly a pilgrimage. He also claims that at 8,000m, the body automatically acts as if it is 70 years older – meaning that his physical capability is that of someone aged 150.

“It is to challenge my own ultimate limit. It is to honour the great Mother Nature,”  said Mr Miura, who has apparently reached the South Col, the point from where most climbers launch their bids for the summit. “And if the limit of age 80 is at the summit of Mt Everest, the highest place on earth, one can never be happier.”

Even to be where he is, is a remarkable achievement for the Japanese adventurer. In 2009, he fractured his pelvis and left thigh bone in a skiing accident and in January he underwent an operation to correct an irregular heartbeat. It was his fourth such surgery.

“If he was in his 60s, he probably would have waited for another year or two, but at the age of 80 he's not getting any younger. He has a strong determination that now is the time,” his daughter, Emili Miura, told the Associated Press.

If Mr Miura makes it to the top, he would capture the record. But it would only last a few days if Mr Sherchan is able to follow his him.

The situation is little different to how things played out in 2008 when, at the age of 75, Mr Miura sought to recapture the title of oldest man to summit the mountain. He had set the record in 2003 at the age of 70 but it was later broken twice by slightly older Japanese climbers.

He reached the summit on May 26, 2008, at the age of 75 years and 227 days. But the record cruelly eluded him because Mr Sherchan had scaled the summit the previous day at the age of 76 years and 340 days.

Mr Sherchan, a former Gurkha soldier in the British army who began mountaineering in 1960, walked the length of Nepal in 2003. He and his team said they will make their attempt next week, just as Nepalese officials are celebrating the 60 anniversary of the first successful attempt on Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.

“Our team leader has just arrived back at base camp and we are holding a team meeting on when exactly I will head up to the summit,” Mr Sherchan told the AP, speaking from base camp. “I am fine and in good health. I am ready to take up the challenge. Our plan is to reach the summit within one week.”

His rival, the Japanese climber, Miura was well-known long before his late-in-life mountaineering pursuits. A celebrated speed skier who described the South Col in 1970, using a parachute to slow his ride, he was featured in a subsequent Oscar-winning documentary The Man Who Skied Down Everest.

Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

MS Dynamics NAV Developer

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: MS Dynamics NAV...

Technical / Engineering Manager - West Yorkshire - £50k+

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: The company ...

MS Dynamics NAV Developer

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: **MS Dynamics N...

Data Analytics Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading organisation...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star