Anniversary at Everest

By Stephanie Kraus with TIME and AP reporting

A new record helps mark 60 years since the first ascent of Mount Everest.

Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world. But that hasn’t stopped thousands of people from climbing it successfully. Wednesday marks 60 years since climbers first reached the top of the 29,035-foot-mountain. As this anniversary arrives, more daredevils are stepping up to take on the challenge—and breaking records along the way. 

On Thursday, Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura, 80, broke the record for the oldest person to climb Everest. But the record may not stand for very long. Miura’s longtime rival Min Bahadur Sherchan, 81, is right on his tail. Sherchan plans to climb the mountain this week. If he makes it to the top, he will break Miura's record.

For now, Miura is satisfied with his accomplishment. “This is the best feeling in the world,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “I’ve never felt like this in my life. But I've never been more exhausted than this."

History of the Heights

Mount Everest was named after Welsh geographer and surveyor Sir George Everest in 1865. He was the first person to record the location and height of the mountain.

 But it was Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay who truly reached new heights. On May 29, 1953, they became the first two people to climb to the top of Mt. Everest. Tenzing was a mountain climber from Nepal and Hillary was a beekeeper from New Zealand. At the summit, the two men hugged each other with relief and joy but they only stayed on the “crown of the Earth" for 15 minutes. At that height, they were low on oxygen. Hillary and Tenzing’s achievement came just two days after a British expedition, led by John Hunt, came within 330 feet of the summit. 

The Government of Nepal has organized Mt. Everest Diamond Jubilee Celebrations between May 27 and 29, 2013, to commemorate  the first ascent. During the festival, a two-day international conference is being held to discuss the effects of climate change and tourism on the mountain. Some climbers will even collect and bring down old garbage from the slopes to help clean up Everest.

Old Rivals

Yuichiro Miura and Min Bahadur Sherchan have competed against each other for years to set a world record on Mt. Everest. On May 26, 2008 Miura reached the summit at the age of 75 years and 227 days, according to Guinness World Records. But he failed to set a record—Sherchan had scaled the summit the day before, at the age of 76 years and 340 days.  

Miura has gotten plenty of attention for other adventures, however. In 1964, he briefly set a world speed skiing record, having achieved 107 miles per hour in the Italian Alps.  In 1970, he became the first person to ski down Mt. Everest with help from a parachute.  And in 2003, at age 70, he set the record for the oldest person to climb Everest. That milestone was broken four years later when fellow Japanese climber Katsusuke Yanagisawa ascended  the mountain at age 71. 

Miura’s recent record breaker on Everest marks his third ascent of the world’s highest mountain. "I think three times is enough," he told reporters. "At this point I [cannot] think of anything but rest."

On the official website for his expedition, Miura explained his attempt to scale Everest at such an advanced age: “It is to challenge (my) own ultimate limit. It is to honor the great Mother Nature."