An 85-year-old former Gurkha is making a bid to reclaim his title as the world’s oldest person to summit Mount Everest.
A Guinness World Record certificate hangs proudly in Min Bahadur Sherchan’s Kathmandu home and by the end of this year’s spring climbing season he hopes to have a second one hanging next to it.
Sherchan made his historic climb in 2008 when he was 76, but he lost the record five years later when Japanese mountaineer Yuichiro Miura summited the 8,848m peak at the age of 80.
Sherchan has since been on a quest to take back the title – though he says it is only to prove to himself that he can.
“My aim is not to break anybody’s record, this is not a personal competition between individuals. I wish to break my own record,” Sherchan told AFP in the Nepali capital.
Nevertheless, the octogenarians have been in a tug of war for the honour of being Everest’s oldest summiteer. Both Sherchan and Miura summited in 2008, but the former soldier in the British Gurkha army secured the record by virtue of being a year older.
When Miura snatched the title in 2013 Sherchan was also preparing to tackle the peak in a bid to retain his title. But delayed paperwork meant he missed the narrow window of good weather in May when most people attempt to summit.
In 2015, Sherchan was on his way to Everest when a devastating quake hit Nepal, killing nearly 9,000 people including 18 in an avalanche that hit the mountain’s base camp, and he was forced to turn back.
“These hurdles haven’t discouraged me, I am determined to go,” he said.
Ang Tsering Sherpa, the head of Nepal’s mountaineering association, has little doubt that Sherchan’s determination will carry him at least part of the way up Everest.
“He is very determined and has strong willpower,” said Sherpa who worked with Sherchan during his previous record attempts.
More than 450 people summited Everest last year, many using mountaineering permits that were extended by the government following the cancellation of the 2015 spring climbing season due to the earthquake.
This year is expected to be particularly crowded as it is the last chance for climbers who were forced off the mountain by the quake to use their extended permits.
Sherchan, who joined the British Gurkhas when he was a teenager and served for five years, said he always had a penchant for adventure. “My personal motto is that I wish to do something that no one else has done before.”
With his bid to summit Everest this year, the slightly hard of hearing grandfather hopes to prove that age is no barrier to adventure.
“By climbing Everest at this age I want to boost self confidence of elderly people, inspire new generations and establish a proud identity for Nepal,” he said.
“The gods should help with the weather and keep me well. I have no diseases, I’ve always been healthy. My age will not stop me.” – AFP