Wednesday 26 July 2017

Experts seek age ban for Everest climb as 85-year-old man dies on mountain

Nepalese mountain climber Min Bahadur Sherchan (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha, File)
Nepalese mountain climber Min Bahadur Sherchan (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha, File)
Nepali mountain climber Min Bahadur. Picture: SherchaREUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar/File Photo

Binaj Gurubacharya

Family and supporters have paid tribute to an 85-year-old Nepali man who died trying to regain his title as the oldest person to climb Mount Everest, as mountaineering experts campaigned for an upper age limit to attempt the daunting challenge.

The death of Min Bahadur Sherchan has revived concerns about allowing elderly people to attempt to scale peaks where the conditions are harsh and the oxygen level low.

Nepali law requires Everest climbers to be at least 16 but there is no upper age limit.

"It is very necessary to immediately bring that age limit law. If there had been a limit, the loss of life could have been prevented," said Ang Tshering, head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.

The association is planning to lobby the government to limit the age of climbers to at least 76, he said.

Mr Sherchan died on Saturday evening at the Everest base camp.

Wife (C) of Nepali mountain climber Min Bahadur Sherchan, 85, is comforted by family members as she mourns his death during a funeral procession after he died on Saturday at base camp while on his attempt to become the oldest person to climb Mount Everest, in Kathmandu, Nepal. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
Wife (C) of Nepali mountain climber Min Bahadur Sherchan, 85, is comforted by family members as she mourns his death during a funeral procession after he died on Saturday at base camp while on his attempt to become the oldest person to climb Mount Everest, in Kathmandu, Nepal. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

Another Nepali man, Shailendra Kumar Upadhyaya, 82, died in 2011 while attempting to scale Everest.

Hundreds of climbers have died on Everest alongside the more than 4,000 who have successfully climbed the world's highest mountain since 1953.

Bottled oxygen and better climbing equipment have helped reduce deaths significantly in recent decades, along with satellite communication equipment and better medical facilities.

Dinesh Bhattarai, who heads the Tourism Department, said the government was seriously discussing an upper age limit.

Mr Sherchan's body was flown by helicopter to Kathmandu on Sunday. The cause of his death was still unclear.

He first scaled Everest in May 2008 when he was 76, then becoming the oldest climber to reach the top. But his record was broken in 2013 by 80-year-old Japanese Yuichiro Miura.

At a funeral ceremony held at the Thakali Service Society premises in Kathmandu, hundreds of family members, friends and supporters offered flowers and colourful scarfs while Buddhist monks chanted a hymn and burned sandalwood incense.

A government minister and fellow climbers were also among those who paid their respects before the body was cremated.

Mr Sherchan is survived by a wife, seven children, 17 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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