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Japanese octogenarian breaks Everest record

Yuichiro Miura, who skied down Everest's South Col in 1970, becomes oldest person to reach the world's highest peak.

Last Modified: 23 May 2013 21:16
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An 80-year-old Japanese mountain climber who has had four heart surgeries has reached the top of Everest, becoming the oldest person to conquer the world's highest mountain.

Yuichiro Miura, who took the standard southeast ridge route pioneered by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay 60 years ago, reached the top of the 29,028ft mountain at roughly 9am local time (03:00 GMT) on Thursday.

He was accompanied by three other Japanese, including his son and six Nepali sherpas.

"I made it!" Miura said over the phone, "this is the world's best feeling, although I'm totally exhausted. Even at 80, I can still do quite well.

"And if the limit of age 80 is at the summit of Mt Everest, the highest place on earth, one can never be happier".

Miura conquered the mountain despite undergoing heart surgery in January for irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, his fourth heart operation since 2007, according to his daughter.

He also fractured his pelvis and left thigh bone in a 2009 skiing accident.

Miura became famous when he was a young man as a daredevil speed skier and he skied down Everest's South Col in 1970, using a parachute to brake his descent.

Final ascent

It was not until Miura was 70 that he first climbed all the way to the summit of Everest.

When he climbed again at 75, he claimed to be the only man to accomplish the feat twice in his 70s.

Gyanendra Shrestha, Nepalese mountaineering official at Everest base camp, confirmed that Miura had reached the summit, making him the oldest person to do so.

Miura spent the night at 27,887ft at the Balcony in the so-called Death Zone before launching his final ascent, Shrestha said.

His ascent had been watched closely in Japan, with daily broadcasts of phone calls and photographs from the climb - including one night when he and his fellow climbers drank green Japanese tea and ate hand-rolled sushi in their tent high on the mountain side.

The previous oldest man to reach the summit was Nepal's Min Bahadur Sherchan, who accomplished the feat at age 76 in 2008, a day before Miura reached the top at age 75.

Sherchan, now 81, is preparing to scale the peak next week despite digestive problems he suffered several days ago.

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