Ninety-year-old Japanese alpinist Yuichiro Miura reached the summit of Mt. Fuji with a group of friends and family on Thursday, having used a wheelchair for the three-day ascent.
Miura arrived at the peak at around 7:20 a.m. amid good weather and cold winds and expressed gratitude to those who had supported his endeavor. While the 3,776-meter Mt. Fuji, the tallest peak in Japan, is a popular hiking destination, few nonagenarians attempt the climb.
His triumph on Mt. Fuji comes after struggles with his health. In June 2020, Miura, then 87, was hospitalized for about eight months due to spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma -- when the nerves in the neck are compressed and cause paralysis of the hands and feet.
The alpinist, who in 2013 became the oldest person to conquer Mt. Everest at age 80, aspired to climb Mt. Fuji as a means of rehabilitation.
"Thanks to everyone, I was able to fulfill my wish of reaching the summit. It's wonderful," he said.
Miura in his specially-designed mountaineering wheelchair began his ascent at around 5:15 a.m. Thursday from the 9th station lodge on the Fujinomiya Trail just as the sun peeked over the horizon. With the help of his climbing party who dragged the chair up, he reached the summit around two hours later.
"I was able to climb with fun company. The view was so stunning that I will never forget it," Miura said.
Some 40 students from Clark Memorial International High School, where Miura acts as honorary principal, greeted the alpinist at the top when he arrived. They joined him at the 9th station lodge the previous day and summited earlier.
"It made me realize that he's admired by so many people," said 18-year-old student Tomoya Sano, adding that he found the support Miura received particularly memorable.
Much of the three-day ascent consisted of him riding his wheelchair that was dragged by a rope. He suffers from an acute feeling of pins and needles in his legs when he moves his body.
On Tuesday, Miura left the 5th station lodge with his son Gota, 54, and spent a night each at the 7th and 9th stations.
The alpinist is known for successfully skiing down Mt. Fuji in 1966 using a parachute to slow his descent. In 2003, 2008, and 2013 -- at the ages 70, 75, and 80 -- Miura successfully reached the 8,848-meter summit of Mt. Everest.
The oldest person to have reached the summit of Mt. Fuji is Teiichi Igarashi, who was 101 years and 10 months old when he achieved the feat in 1988, according to an association that certifies national records.