George Mallroy, one of the first Britons to attempt to conquer Mount Everest back in 1924, famously said of his desire to climb the mountain that he did so “because it’s there.” In the case of two of the mountain’s most recent visitors, “because I can” might be a better mantra.

Having climbed most of his life, Japanese pensioner Yuichiro Miura has scaled Mount Everest–something that the late Mallroy ultimately could not–twice; once at the age of 70 and again at 75. His arrival at the summit yesterday made him the oldest man in the world to complete the climb, claiming the title that he came desperately close to holding in 2008. As he celebrates, however, Miura is aware that he is not the only octogenarian on the mountain. Currently preparing to embark on a record-breaking climb of his own, 81-year-old Min Bahadur Sherchan (pictured above) is just 29,035 feet from snatching Miura’s victory away–for the second time.

Five years ago, Miura proudly stood atop Mount Everest believing himself to be, at 75, the oldest human being to have done so. It was only afterwards that the crushing news came that one Min Bahadur Sherchan from Nepal–who is one year Miura’s senior–had in fact beaten him to it just a day earlier.

By completing the climb a second time, 80-year-old Miura has at last claimed the title that he once thought to be his. At least until Sherchan returns to plants his own flag.

This is not, however, simply a battle for glory between two old men. Prior to his climb, Miura’s daughter told reporters that her father was simply focused on proving to himself that he could do it again, despite now being an octogenarian. Sherchan, meanwhile, is reported by Japan’s Asahi Shinbun as saying that his motivation for climbing the mountain again is not to break the new record but so that he can send the world a clear message from its peak, calling for peace and the total abolition of nuclear weapons.

Whatever the two men’s motivations, we can only watch in awe as they tackle one of the most unforgiving mountains in the world and survive in conditions that few people half their age and in peak physical condition could endure. Congratulations to Mr. Miura on his new world record, and good luck to Mr. Sherchan. Whichever of you ultimately holds the title for oldest conqueror of Everest, you’re both absolute heroes to us.

We’ll leave you now with a short video shot during Yuichiro Miura’s most recent climb. It’s good to see that, even thousands of feet above sea level, he’s staying true to his Japanese roots and enjoying a little home-cooked cuisine!

Source: Asahi Digital