Miuras cite red bean rice, dirty jokes

by Jun Hongo

Staff Writer

Steamed red bean rice and dirty jokes may have been the key for climbing Mount Everest at age 80, famed alpinist Yuichiro Miura and his son, Gota, said Thursday.

Miura on May 23 became the oldest person ever to climb the world’s highest mountain, after setting the record twice before, in 2003 and 2008.

“The two previous times I succeeded just because of luck,” he said at the Japan National Press Club, adding this time was no different.

“There were times I fell and couldn’t get up. Sherpas would bring milk tea in the morning and wake me up, but every morning I felt they were actually checking to see if I was still alive,” he joked. “But I think I was able to break (the concept of what people consider normal) by achieving the feat at age 80.”

He said one of the toughest moments was right after reaching the summit, when he was overcome with exhaustion.

“I was able to eat some red bean rice, drink tea and eat some special cakes I had brought with me. Only then was I able to get back on my feet.”

“My father demonstrated his survival instinct,” said Gota Miura, 43, who joined his father in conquering the mountain. “As a son, I am extremely proud. Other than that, he continued to keep everyone’s spirits up with his dirty jokes along the way.”

Miura has arrhythmia and has had multiple surgeries in recent years. He has said he is done with climbing Everest, but told reporters he “might try something again once the ski season begins.”

After achieving his feat, Miura not only became a source of inspiration for elders in Japan but also a symbol of resilience.

His achievements “are proof that dreams can come true if you refuse to give up and continue to work hard,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday in announcing his economic growth strategy.