Japanese man, 80, starts Everest ascent

TOKYO (AFP) - An 80-year-old Japanese mountaineer has begun his ascent of Mount Everest, his website said, in a bid to become the oldest man to reach the roof of the world.

In a voice message recorded on his website, Yuichiro Miura said the expedition was setting off on Thursday for a climb that was expected to take a little over a week.

"We plan to stand on the summit on May 24... We are all doing well, getting in position to tackle the mountain."

Mr Miura is trying to get back a Guinness World Record that he first held in 2003 when he became the oldest man to climb Everest.

That record was beaten in 2007 by a Japanese man who reached the summit at 71 years old.

The title is currently held by Nepal's Min Bahadur Sherchan, who set foot on the 8,848-metre summit in May 2008 when he was 76.

Veteran adventurer Miura came to worldwide attention in 1970 when he became the first person to ski down Everest. His parachute-aided descent was documented in the 1975 film "The Man Who Skied Down Everest" which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary.

High-octane endeavours are in his blood - his father Keizo skied down Mont Blanc at age 99.

More than 3,000 people have successfully scaled Everest, but the mountain claims lives regularly, with even the best climbers falling victim to its fickle weather.

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