Octogenarians battle for title as world's oldest climber to summit Everest

KATHMANDU (AFP) - An 82-year-old Nepalese man who holds the world record for being the oldest person to summit Mount Everest will defend his title against a familiar octogenarian competitor, organisers said on Thursday.

Mr Min Bahadur Sherchan's record for scaling the world's highest peak at 76 is being challenged by arch rival Yuichiro Miura of Japan, who is already on his way up the mountain.

Mr Miura, who is 80 years old, has already summited the 8,848m peak twice. A veteran adventurer, in 1970 he became the first person to ski down Everest.

Mr Sherchan reached the summit in May 2008, beating his rival Miura, who scaled Everest that season, by a year.

Mr Bhim Paudel of Himalayan Guide, the company organising Sherchan's expedition, said the campaign aimed to generate awareness about the strength of elderly people.

"He is very excited to begin the ascent this season. He is also physically fit for the climb," Mr Paudel told AFP, adding that the team will leave for Lukla, the gateway to Everest, on Friday morning.

Mr Sherchan, who uses a hearing aid, told AFP that Nepal's tourism ministry is giving one million rupees (S$22,800) to help fund the expedition, adding that he also received financial support from well-wishers.

"I am going for a climb mainly to break my own record but more than that my summit will also make history for humanity," he said. "Everyone is talking about world peace, but I have taken up the task of climbing Everest to spread the message of world peace."

More than 3,000 people have successfully climbed Everest and superlative and record-breaking summit quests have become increasingly common, featuring firsts by people with disabilities, a gay climber and repeat climbs.

A fight that broke out last weekend between three European climbers and Nepalese guides high on Everest has cast a shadow over this year's climbing season, which marks the 60th anniversary of Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary's 1953 maiden summit.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.