The oldest person to scale Mt. Everest, Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura, 80, said today he felt “very lucky” and “very happy” to have returned safely from the peak.
Miura was planning on returning to the base of the mountain on Saturday, but poor visibility prevented a helicopter from picking up the octogenarian and his team. The flight was postponed until today when there was a slight improvement in the weather conditions.
“It was great but I was wondering how I was going to get back alive,” Miura said. “I’m very relieved.”
Miura was greeted by well-wishers offering him flowers at the Katmandu airport as he prepared to head home.
On Thursday, he reached the top of the 29,030-foot mountain for the third time in the past decade.
Miura didn’t attempt his first climb to the top of Everest until 2003, when he was 70 years old. He made that trek with his son, a former Olympian, and set a world record as the oldest climber to successfully scale the mountain. Five years later, he returned again, at 75 years old and became the first person to scale the mountain twice when in their 70s.
His feat is even more remarkable considering his age and his medical history. Miura has had four heart surgeries to treat recurring arrhythmia, including one just two months before he set out on his latest journey. In 2009, a skiing accident left him with a broken pelvis and fractured thigh.
Rival climber, Nepal’s Min Bahadur Sherchan, has matched him every step of the way, shattering Miura’s records. In 2008, he successfully made the climb to Everest’s summit one day before Miura, at the age of 76 and 340 days, according to the Guinness World Records site.
Sherchan, now 81, is attempting yet another trip to the summit in hopes of beating the record Miura set last week on Everest.
“I hope his success is good news. I wish him best of luck,” Miura said.