A Japanese alpinist made history by becoming the first to ski descent on Everest. The year was 1970 when Yuchiro Miura created waves in a Canadian documentary based on his ski descent named “The Man Who Skiied Down Mount Everest.”
Yuichiro skied 2,000 m (6,600 ft) in two minutes and 20 seconds. He fell 400 m (1,320 ft) down the abrupt Lhotse face from the Yellow Band located right below the South Col. He stopped his journey at 76 m (250 ft) from the edge of a bergschrund. However, he kept going with his descent down the riskiest and most dangerous glacier of the tallest mountain in the world.
There are many interesting facts that you may want to know about Yuichiro Miura; make sure to read till the end of this article!
Who is Yuichiro Miura?
Yuichiro Miura is a big name in the world of mountaineering. He is best known for his legendary ski descent from the Everest. There wasn’t a single person who had done what he had in Everest, and he made a name for himself in 1969 for this. Miura even had a documentary made on his experience, which shows what he went through during his time on Mount Everest. Many in the mountaineering also know him as the “godfather of extreme skiing.”
Speaking of his early life, Yuichiro Miura was born on October 12, 1932, in Aomori City, Japan. He was born to a Japanese skier father, Keizo Miura. Hence, the alpinist was exposed to extreme sports from a very young age. This also helped him become passionate and find a direction for what he really wanted to do and become when he grew up. He landed in a second position for an ice skiing competition when he was in second grade in elementary school. This was his first experience with extreme sports.
As he grew up, his family moved to the South. However, Yuichiro could not contain himself, missing the snow and the mountains. This led him to enroll in Hokkaido University. In the university, he pursued skiing as a professional sport.
Odds had always been in his favor, and Miura was always meant to make it big in mountaineering. Hence, with time he held prominent titles as an alpinist. It is not likely for you to find just about anyone who does not know about Miura in the adventure sports world to this date. It is, however, his Everest descent that set his legacy.
Moreover, he is also the father to Gota Miura, an alpinist and freestyle skier. Gota accompanied his father during one of his Everest ascents. Also, he competed in the 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics.
Yuichiro Miura Career: Oldest Person To Climb Mount Everest In 2013
Yuichiro started his skiing journey by training for downhill and speed skiing. Like every other skier or adventure sports player, he had to improve his skiing skills by starting with advanced hiking to higher elevations. This was mostly focused at first on building oneself as a mountain climber, which would, with time, lead to a better future in ice skiing. As he advanced as a mountaineer, he began his journey of ski descending from them. Miura became a prolific skier and started participating in several ice skiing competitions. He also excelled in average speed in the 100-meter section of the steep slope downhill. This record was not at all far from the Italian record of 172.084 km/h, which was the world’s highest record from July 1964.
While a lot of people would excel in the biggest adventure feat in their career in their youth, Miura yet again defied all the odds when he made it down Everest by skiing on May 6, 1970. The legendary skiing was 4,200 vertical feet from the South Col (elevation over 8,000 m (26,000 ft)), also shown in the 1975 film The Man Who Skied Down Everest. The documentary won the Academy Award for Best Documentary, becoming the first sports film in history to mark a record like this one. Likewise, from the years 1978 to 1985, he skied from seven of the highest peaks in Europe.
Breaking the stereotypes was a cup of tea for Yuichiro, who became the oldest person to climb Mount Everest at the age of 70 in 2003. He broke this record again on his own and remained the oldest person to ascend the tallest summit in the world. Despite two major heart surgeries, he ascended Everest at 80 years old a decade later in 2013. This success is also well considered to be a phenomenal one among mountaineers. This gave him a title in the Guinness Book of World Records. He could not walk to the base camp during his last summit to Everest; he was airlifted from Advanced Base Camp (6500 meters).
There was a controversy against Miura that was set by the questions of Ken Noguchi, who did not consider the alpinist’s summit successful as he did not make it back to the base camp on his feet.
Yuichiro Miura’s Message
As he became the oldest person to climb Everest at 80, it seems almost impossible for success for most other people in the world. Upon being asked about his fitness and secrets to remaining active till old age, Miura revealed his secret:
“healthy eating and organic food. He starts every day with a breakfast consisting of cooked rice, fermented soya beans, miso soup, eggs, and fish. Once a week, he will treat himself to a 500g (18oz) steak.”
Despite his age, Yuichiro also trains with 5kg each on his legs and 30kg on his back while walking 5.5 miles. Most necessarily, all this training was done in a low oxygen room to habituate him to the high altitude oxygen level.
Yuichiro Miura Everest Journey
May 6, 1970, marks a legendary day for the greatest of all times, Yuichiro Miura. Mount Everest’s South Col, situated at the height of 26,000m, is considered one of the most difficult routes to climb and descend from; skiing from this route may seem like a nightmare to many, but for Miura, it was all about reaching the impossible. All he had for support was a parachute on his back that anyone doubted would even work and an oxygen cylinder in case of any deadly incident. However, he very well succeeded and made it out alive with a world record that not anyone would be able to break.
Recalling what he had in his mind, Miura accepted the fact that he did not really care or worry too much about summiting the Everest than he did about descending from atop the peak. In an interview, he shared, “When I planned to ski Everest, the first thing I faced was ‘How can I return alive? All the preparation and training was based on this question. But the more I prepared, the more I knew the chance of survival was very slim. Nobody in the world had done this before, so I told myself that I must face death. Otherwise, I am not eligible.”
When he made the descent, there was a bunch of people in a team accompanying him, which included scientists, mountaineers, photographers, a film crew, members of the press, and of course, a ski team. 800 porters were hired to carry 27 tons of equipment to the Everest base camp through a 185-mile, 22-day trail.
While it was Miura who was able to make it back to the base camp alive after his descent, two people from his team lost their lives due to a heart attack caused by the extensive thin air. It was in his mind to stop the expedition at all. But, given that two people had already sacrificed their lives for something he had aimed for himself, it did not seem sensible to return home without succeeding in doing what was meant to be done first. So, he went on.
He hiked to the South Col and got ready with all the logistics and filming crew set up perfectly at 11 a.m. The weather was not favorable at the time, like it never really was on Mount Everest, and he had to start his descent in earnest. Once he started his journey down the mountain, he was close to death and was almost sure he would not survive. His sliding down the peak made him utterly clueless at a point. While one of his safety straps broke, he tried to hold onto the ice, fearing the crevasse that was waiting for him at the end of the slope. However, a single stroke of good luck came in the form of a snow patch 250 feet from the bergschrund. It took the alpinist a while even to realize that he was alive at this point.
Besides a film, a book was also published on the same accomplishment with the same name as the film, that is, The Man Who Skied Down Everest. While he had never thought that he would have the zeal ever to climb or summit Everest at two of the oldest ages anyone ever had in his initial days, he majorly focused on being able to ski descent from the seven summits of Europe, which he successfully did post his ski Everest descent.
Yuichiro Miura’s Successes
His success did not end with Everest. In 1981, he skied Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. Similarly, in 1983 and 1985, he descended from Antarctica’s Mount Vinson and Russia’s Mount Elbrus and Argentina’s Mt. Aconcagua, respectively. Additionally, he also set a record as the first person to ski descent from Mount Vinson.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How old was Yuichiro Miura when he climbed Mount Everest?
Yuichiro Miura was 80 years and 223 days old when he climbed Mount Everest.
What did Yuichiro Miura do?
Yuichiro Miura became the first person to ski descent from Everest while also becoming the oldest person to summit Mount Everest at the age of 80.
Is Yuichiro Miura still alive?
Yes, Miura is still alive at the age of 91 as of 2023.
What happened to Yuichiro Miura on Everest?
Miura almost fell into a crevasse during his ski descent from Everest.
Who is Yuichiro Miura’s wife?
Yuichiro Miura’s wife is Tomoko Miura.