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.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
football
Life and Style
Jack Cooksey goes for the grand unveiling - moments before dropping his new iPhone 6 on the floor
iphone launch
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Life and Style
Customers look at the new iPhones on display at the launch of the new Apple iPhone 6 and iphone 6 plus at the Apple IFC store in Hong Kong
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Sport
Andros Townsend is challenged by Vladimir Volkov
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
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

Nursery assistants required across Cambridgeshire

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

SEN 1:1 Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified teache...

SEN Teachers and Support Staff

£50 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an SEN Teacher or L...

English and Media Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English & Media Teacher - ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week