During the last couple of weeks of May, during the height of the Himalayan climbing season, Mt. Everest (29,029 or maybe 29,035 ft.) was climbed by it’s oldest mountaineer ever, 80-year-old Yiuchiro Miura. Without a walker. He said he was a little tired when he made it back to base camp. Really? By the time you read this, his record may have been broken. Former record holder, Nepal’s Min Bahadur Sherchan set the prior mark in 2008 when he was 76. Now 81 he is on the way back to Everest to reclaim the record. Good luck, Min. Don’t worry about BINGO, they will wait until you get back to finish the game.
Also summiting were Americans Melissa Arnot and Dave Hahn. At 29, Arnot has summited five times, which is the record for the ladies. Hahn made it number 15. He has quite a few more climbs before he takes the record but he seems to be on the way. Whew!
May 1 1963 was the day Jim Whittaker, now 84, became the first American to make it to the top. JW chronicled his trip in the book, “A Life on the Edge: Memoir’s of Everest and Beyond,” published in 1999. JW was also the first employee of REI and its first CEO. As if he weren’t busy enough already. A new edition of JW’s book in hardcover is now available. If you visit www.jimwhitaker.com you can obtain a copy directly from him for the same price you would pay at a bookstore or online. As a bonus, he will sign your copy and add a small inscription. It’s a great present for yourself or unique gift for someone else.
The original 1963 expedition was led by Norman Dyhrenfurth who filmed a lot of the trip. ND made it quite high on Everest but didn’t summit. He turned 95 on May 7. Besides a book on the expedition, National Geographic used the footage, including the first film ever taken on the summit, to produce a TV special. The one-hour show was broadcast September 10 1965. It was the very first TV special ever produced by NatGeo. If you’re going to start somewhere, tt might as well be at the top. Now they broadcast 24/7.
The show has been on a few DVD collections, but usually in truncated form. It is currently included in the DVD collection documenting the first 125 years of the magazine (1888 to 2013) and its explorations. If you get the NatGeo channel on cable or satellite they are also broadcasting this show in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the expedition. Directed by Dyhrenfurth and written by mountain novelist James Ramsey Ullman, it is narrated by Orson Welles. Welles never climbed Mt. Everest.
Jim Whittaker and his twin brother reside in Washington. At 84, he returned to the Mt. Everest vicinity but was affected by the altitude and had to cut short his plans to hike to base camp. I doubt I could have made it as high as he did at 84 when I was 24.
Be sure to check out the vintage show on the NatGeo channel. It’s free, or you can look for the DVD. JW is the guy running the movie camera on the summit.
Congratulations to all of this year’s climbers; the young and old. If you order a book from JW, tell him you love a mix of vanilla and mint chocolate chip ice cream and that you only eat it outside. See what he says.
Rated 4.0 out of 4.0 firsts. For NatGeo, JW and America.