Innovative then, innovative now
0-3:33 a.m. EDT Apr 18, 2003
Father and son duo Yuichiro and Gota Miura planned on sleeping over at Camp II the other night. The last time Yuichiro was at Camp II he had some skis with him.
33 years ago Yuichiro Miura became, "The man who skied down Everest." At a little above 8000 meters he donned a parachute and started down the steep and notoriously icy slope of the South Col. He reached speeds of 150 kph on the way down. It almost ended horribly when Yuichiro came to a stop, on his stomach and very near a crevasse. Living near the 'edge' was and is nothing new to Yuichiro - in the 60's he set the world speed record on skis at a blistering 170.081 kph.
Leaving the skis at home
This time Yuichiro has left the skis at home and has brought along his son Gota, a member of the Japanese Freestyle ski team and a former Olympian. The skiing bug obviously runs in the family. While Yuichiro won't go down in the history books this year for something similar to his epic fete back in the 70's, he might enter the annals of Everest as the eldest ascenders.
Senior Citizens Club
Unlike public transportation, movie theaters, and some hotels, Everest doesn't afford the same discounts to its most senior climbers as the rest of the world does. They don't get to go to the front of the fixed ropes or have reserved tent spaces near the icefall and closest to the route.
This year, no less than three climbers are vying to be the eldest Everest ascender. American Dick Bass who previously held the record back in the late 80's is the oldest at 73 years of age. Yuichiro is next in line at 70 years of age. Both of these climbers have been on Everest before - Yuichiro to the South Col and Dick Bass to the summit. A third Russian climber, Alexander Sergeev, who is 66 can also become the eldest if neither Dick nor Yuichiro make the summit.
Coolest Everest site of the season
This expedition also receives the MountEverest.net official, "Coolest Expedition Website," award. While it lacks in frequent updates (the last one was April 9th), it makes up for in vision, design, and concept. The Japanese have always been innovators on Everest. In the late 80's they became the first to transmit live video from the summit to Japanese television, a feat which many have tried to do since, but have not been able to.
There is one caveat about the site, it is all in Japanese and is impervious to every web translation tool in existence. Still there are some sections in English that help to navigate. (See instructions below) There is an animated map integrated with a time line that shows the climbers' progress throughout the trek and on the camps of Everest itself. You can visually see where along the route they are and use a slider to see where they were in past days.
In addition, there are biometric monitors and charts that illustrate the climber's body compositions: weight, blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, etc. . There is even a time based chart that compares the climber's heart rate at specific altitudes during the daily climb. On the graph it is easy to see were they rested for lunch and how that break significantly lowered their heart rates.
The next step
The Japanese have taken the next step for the presentation of Everest climbers and expeditions in general - making the experience at home closer to the actual explorer. While the Japanese have certainly done a great job with presentation, the evolution of this taking the action live from the climber directly to the web.
Picture courtesy of Miura Everest 2003