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Nepal man, 85, dies trying to become oldest Everest climber

Official carry the body of Nepalese mountaineer Min Bahadur Sherchan brought to Lukla heli pad on Ma
Officials carry the body of Min Bahadur Sherchan to a helicopter in Lukla, Nepal.
(Prakash Mathema / AFP/Getty Images)

An 85-year-old Nepalese man has died while attempting to regain his title as the oldest person to climb Mount Everest, officials said.

Min Bahadur Sherchan died at the Everest base camp on Saturday evening. The cause of death was not immediately clear, but mountaineering official Gyanendra Shrestha, who is at the base camp, said he likely suffered cardiac arrest. Shrestha could not elaborate because of a poor telephone connection.

Sherchan’s body was flown Sunday to Kathmandu, where family and supporters held a funeral. His death revived concerns about allowing elderly people to attempt to scale mountain peaks where conditions are harsh and the oxygen level is low.

At a community center, Sherchan’s family, friends and supporters offered flowers and a colorful scarf as Buddhist monks chanted a religious hymn and burnt sandalwood incense.

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Sherchan, a grandfather of 17 and great-grandfather to six, first scaled Everest in May 2008 when he was 76 — at the time becoming the oldest climber to reach the top.

Nepalese mountaineer Min Bahadur Sherchan
Nepalese mountaineer Min Bahadur Sherchan
(Narendra Shrestha / EPA)

His record was broken in 2013 by 80-year-old Japanese Yuichiro Miura.

Before leaving for the mountain last month, Sherchan told the Associated Press that once he had completed the climb and become famous, he intended to travel to conflict areas to spread a message of peace.

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He had trained for months before the attempt, saying that he did not suffer from any respiratory problems and his blood pressure was normal.

Being born in the mountains, he said he had no problems with high altitude or the low levels of oxygen there.

Sherchan’s love of mountaineering began in 1960 when he was assigned by the Nepalese government to be a liaison officer for the Swiss team climbing Mount Dhaulagiri.

He later became an apple farmer and constructed roads and dams before settling down to run hotels in Kathmandu.

A record number of climbers are hoping to scale the 29,035-foot mountain in May and June, the best months for climbing Everest. The Nepalese Tourism Department has issued 371 permits this year.

A renowned Swiss climber, Ueli Steck, who was training to scale Everest, was killed last Sunday.

The 2015 season was scrapped after 19 climbers were killed and 61 injured by an avalanche at the base camp triggered by a massive earthquake. In 2014, an avalanche at the Khumbu Icefall killed 16 Sherpa guides.

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UPDATES:

4:55 a.m.: Updated with the climber’s funeral.

This article was first published at 10:45 p.m. Saturday.


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