Nepali grandpa wrests Everest title from Japanese samurai

Kathmandu, Nov 23 ( A 78-year-old grandfather from Nepal has wrested back from his Japanese rival the record of being the oldest man to conquer Mt Everest, the highest peak in the world, at the age of 76.

Min Bahadur Sherchan, a former soldier in the British Army who quit his job to become a social worker, is now the proud holder of the record, vanquishing professional Japanese climber and skiier Yuichiro Miura.

Though both the senior citizens summited the 8,848m high peak in May 2008, the real battle began after both claimed place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest climber in the world to succeed in the feat.

Sherchan, who reached the summit on May 25, was then a little more than 76 years old. But his joy turned to chagrin when the record was awarded to Miura, who scaled the peak two days later at the age of 75.

“There was some misunderstanding, a lapse in communications,” said the organisation that had supported Sherchan’s Everest expedition in 2008.

“We were not aware of the technicalities and did not forward the necessary documents to the Guinness authorities,” said the Senior Citizens’ Mt Everest Expedition 2008.

However, an undeterred Sherchan fought back doggedly, sending the Guinness office the required evidence.

A month ago, the beaming 78-year-old walked into the office of Nepal’s tourism ministry to proudly display the new certificate awarded to him by the Guinness, correcting the error.

“The oldest man to climb Mt Everest is Min Bahadur Sherchan (Nepal b. 20 June 1931) who reached the summit on 25 May 2008 at the age of 76 years 340 days,” the certificate says.

However, Sherchan will make his record public only on Monday at a triumphant programme in the capital, to be attended by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala.

“He decided to wait so that the PM and deputy PM would be able to attend the programme,” undersecretary at Nepal tourism ministry Surendra Sapkota said.

Sherchan, who hails from the remote Myagdi district and has travelled across Nepal on foot, will however not rest on his laurels.

He is planning to attempt the legendary peak once again.

“The Thakali community, to which Sherchan belongs, believes an elder becomes an incarnation of god when he turns 84,” the organisation supporting him told IANS.

“So he is planning to attempt Mt Everest at the age of 84 once again.”

Sherchan said he was delighted with the recognition despite the delay.

“I am very happy,” he said. “I hope I can pull it off again when I am 84.”