Hokkaido: World’s oldest Everest climber eyes new challenges

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yuichiro Miura, front center, poses with others for a commemorative photo at the summit of Mt. Teine, Sapporo, on Oct. 9.

SAPPORO — In early October, professional skier Yuichiro Miura visited Mt. Teine, a 1,023-meter mountain on the outskirts of Sapporo.

Miura, the oldest person in the world to climb Mt. Everest, could not walk up mountain paths as easily as before because of a disease he suffered two years ago. But, holding his canes with both hands, he headed toward the summit while keeping a firm footing.

Miura, who lives in Sapporo, celebrated his 90th birthday on Oct. 12. He reached the summit of Mt. Everest three times between the ages of 70 and 80, and served as a a role model for the energetic elderly.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yuichiro Miura, center, climbs Mt. Teine ahead of his 90th birthday in Teine Ward, Sapporo, on Oct. 9.

In June 2020, however, Miura developed a cervical epidural hematoma, a blood tumor on the back of his neck that compressed his spinal cord. Emergency surgery was successful, but he became bedridden. The coronavirus pandemic meant that he couldn’t see his family for eight months while he was in the hospital.

Miura’s second son, Gota, 53, saw him struggle. “He lost nearly 20 kilograms and had numbness all over his body,” he said. “He couldn’t even walk.”

Aiming to participate in the Tokyo Olympics torch relay, Miura underwent rigorous rehabilitation six days a week and last June passed the torch at the fifth station of Mt. Fuji.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A birthday cake decorated with a portrait of Miura, given as a present after climbing Mt. Teine.

On his birthday, Miura and friends climbed Mt. Teine, where he has been principal of a ski school for more than 40 years, to celebrate his long life.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Miura, center, toasts with his eldest son Yuta, far right, and second son Gota, left, at a restaurant in Sapporo on Oct. 12.

Due to numbness in his legs, Miura ascended some of the mountain using a special wheelchair attached to ropes pulled by his sons and friends. On some slopes, however, he was able to walk by himself.

After reaching the summit, Miura quietly talked about his new goal: “I want to try winter skiing next. I’ll try to move my feet little by little, and someday I want to climb Mt. Fuji again.”