x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Nepalese luminary, 82, wants to be oldest to climb Everest

An 82-year-old former Nepalese minister is preparing to climb Mount Everest and set the record as the oldest person to scale the world's highest peak. The record is now held by a 76-year-old Nepalese man.

KATHMANDU // An 82-year-old former Nepalese minister has set off for Mount Everest in an attempt to set the record as the oldest person to scale the world's highest peak, organisers said yesterday.

Shailendra Kumar Upadhyaya, who served as Nepal's foreign minister and permanent UN representative in the 1970s and 1980s, said he aimed to raise awareness about the capabilities of elderly people by climbing Mount Everest.

"Mountaineering is often associated with physical strength. But you have to be mentally strong to accomplish this climb," Mr Upadhyaya said.

"I want to prove that elderly people like me are capable of such achievements," the silver-haired octogenarian said in Kathmandu ahead of his departure for the 8,848-metre mountain.

Mr Upadhyaya will be joined by five guides and sherpas in his attempt to make the ascent.

"When I said I would climb Everest, people did not believe me. But I'm well prepared to reach the summit," he said at the weekend.

Mr Upadhyaya plans to start out from the Everest base camp on April 28.

His climb was organised by the Senior Citizen Mount Everest Expedition, which supports attempts by older people to scale the mountain. The current record is held by another Nepalese climber, Min Bahadur Sherchan, who scaled the mountain at the age of 76 three years ago.

Mr Upadhyaya has already scaled the 6,467-metre Mera Peak and the 6,160-metre Island Peak, both in the Everest region, in the past few years.

Since the mountain was first conquered in 1953 by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, more than 3,000 people have reached the peak. Several hundred have died, many of them falling to their deaths or succumbing to altitude sickness during the ascent.

* Agence France-Presse