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85-Year-old Everest Climber, Trying to Reclaim Record, Dies




Photo
Min Bahadur Sherchan in Kathmandu, Nepal, in April, describing the trail to Mount Everest.CreditNiranjan Shrestha/Associated Press

KATHMANDU, Nepal — An octogenarian Nepalese mountaineer who was on a mission to reclaim his title as the oldest climber on Mount Everest died on Saturday afternoon at base camp, government officials said.
The climber, Min Bahadur Sherchan, 85, died at 5:14 p.m., said Dinesh Bhattarai, the director general of the Nepal Department of Tourism.
The cause of Mr. Sherchan’s death was not immediately clear, but Gyanendra Shrestha, a government mountaineering official at the Everest base camp, said it might have been a heart attack.
Tilak Ram Pandey, a government liaison officer for Mr. Sherchan’s team who was near the base camp, said Mr. Sherchan’s body would be taken to Kathmandu for an autopsy on Sunday.
Mr. Sherchan’s climbing mission was to “spread world peace and preserve mankind,” according to this team’s GoFundMe page. His death came nearly a week after the renowned Swiss mountain climber Ueli Steck, nicknamed “the Swiss Machine” for his rapid ascents of some of the world’s most imposing peaks, died in an accident at a camp near Everest.
Mr. Steck, 40, had been trying to climb the 25,791-foot Himalayan peak Nuptse in preparation for an ambitious ascent of Everest, Mr. Bhattarai said. Mr. Steck’s body was cremated in the monastery at Tengboche on Thursday morning, according to the Nepali tradition.
Mr. Sherchan went back to Everest to try to regain the title he claimed at age 76, in 2008. He lost the record five years later, when the Japanese mountaineer Yuichiro Miura summited the 29,029-foot peak at the age of 80.
“Since his record was broken, he wanted to regain it,” said Ang Tshering Sherpa, the president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association
Mr. Sherpa said Mr. Sherchan used to exercise every day and was maintaining his strength. “He used to walk for 14 to 15 kilometers every day,” he said. “He was physically well, but he was challenged by his age.”
Mr. Sherpa added: “He is a person with a strong will. He always wanted to make Nepal proud. We are very sad because of his death.”
Mr. Sherchan was born on June 20, 1931, in the tiny remote village of Bhurung Tatopani in West Nepal. He was a British Gurkha soldier at one point, and used to live in the United Kingdom.
In 2013, Mr. Sherchan put off plans to ascend Everest because of a lack of finances. He tried to climb Everest again in 2014, but that trek was canceled after an avalanche killed 16 sherpas. He made another attempt in 2015, but an earthquake killed nearly 9,000 people, including 18 in an avalanche that hit the mountain’s base camp.
A total of 371 climbers from 40 expedition teams have permits to climb Everest for this year from Nepal’s side. On Saturday, climbers were waiting for favorable weather to summit the mountain.
“Weather is not good at the moment; there is a lot of wind,” Mr. Shrestha said by phone from the base camp. “Sherpas are trying to rope the way above 8,000 meters, but because of the bad weather, they haven’t been able to do so in the last two to three days. They’ll do it once the weather gets better.”
More than 4,870 climbers have reached the summit from Nepal’s side so far.


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