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  • Yuichiro MiuraPHOTOGRAPHY: YUKO HIGO
  • Yuichiro MiuraPHOTOGRAPHY: YUKO HIGO

Yuichiro Miura: Climbing Everest at 70

, 2009/12/19

“I want to stand atop Mt. Everest when I am 70 years old.” I was 65 when I first dreamt of that. I skied down from the 8,000m point on Everest at the age of 37, and at 53, I had conquered the highest mountains in all seven continents. However, by 65 I was semi retired from the adventure business. I was telling myself to stop risking my life already. Yet I noticed myself hanging loose between my father, who descended Mount Blanc at the ripe old age of 99, and my son, who competed in the Olympics as a skier. I had fallen out of shape, was putting on weight and looked far from athletic. All of a sudden I felt as if my life was over, and a great sadness came over me. That’s when I shook myself to start up again. I had a few telling signs of old age, such as high blood pressure and arrhythmia. Really, I was just another old man. But that’s why I thought it would be miraculous if I successfully climbed Everest. So I made a 5 year plan and started training. I began with the small 531 meter tall Mount Moiwa behind my house. Then I moved on to a 1,000 meter high mountain, then 3,000 meters and gradually climbed higher and higher mountains, enjoying all of them immensely. Each small accomplishment kept me motivated and step by step I managed to arrive at the ultimate goal of Everest. Why do I take so many risks? Because I want to live an exciting life. Without adventures, life’s over. As we grow into our adulthood, we tend to build a cage for ourselves made of limiting and random restrictions. I want to get out of that cafe. I know that there is danger outside, but there is also freedom. Every child is an adventurer and everything that he sees is a wonderland. I want to hold on to the sensibility that allowed me to feel such excitement and welcome so many surprises when I was little. My next dream is to stand atop Chomolungma in 2008. The Olympics will be held in Beijing that year, and they say the torch runner will also be going to the summit. I’d like to be there at the same tim. Just visualizing it fills me with excitement.

This story originally appeared in Paper Sky No. 11. Shanghai, 2004 in cooperation with The North Face.

On May 26, 2008 at the age of 75, Miura once again reached the summit of Mount Everest setting a new world record. While in Japan, Miura and his family often backcountry in and around Mount Hakoda.

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