Yuichiro Miura is quite a kickass dude. And an unknown Speed Riding hero that no one every heard of.
Miura made fame in the 70’s skiing down an impossibly steep mountain face on Mount Everest – using a parachute to slow him down – and almost killing himself in the process. And without himself knowing it made him the world’s first ever Speed Rider!
Then more than 40 years later he made fame again becoming the oldest person to climb Everest aged 80.
The Man Who Skied Down Everest, the world’s first Speed Rider
‘The Man Who Skied Down Everest’ is a documentary about Yuichiro Miura’s insane attempt to ski down from Mt. Everest 8,000 feet down an icy glacier at a 40 to 45 degree angle, from the 26,000 foot level near the summit.
That was the plan. Reality turned out quite different. And disastrous. Eight people of the Japanese expedition died in the ascent of whom six in an icefall accident. Miura however still went on with his intended skiing plan. With a 35mm Panavision film crew in tow they climbed to the South Col, only 350m from the Everest summit. He used a parachute to slow him down from the 120mph he would have reached. And that feat alone made him the world’s first speed rider…without himself being aware of the sport that would go on to mesmerise the adventure winter sports world.
When he got on his skis Miura skied down 7000 feet (2300 m) in 2 minutes and 20 seconds before a wind gust threw him down in a 1320 feet fall down the steep Lhotse face from the Yellow Band just below the South Col. He started tumbling down the incredibly steep face and only came to a full stop just 200 ft. from the edge of the huge Bergshrund crevasse.
Have a look at the video and you will see that it really is as crazy as it sounds.
The documentary was produced by Canadian film maker Budge Crawley who won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for this picture in 1975.
Speed riding pioneer
Now, many years after his daring parachute skiing descend it can be safely said that Miura accomplished the first speedride descend ever.
Speed flying – also known as speed riding – is the air sport of flying a small, fast fabric wing (a type of parachute), usually in close proximity to a steep slope. Basically it is a cross between freeride skiing and parachuting. Speed flying and speed riding are very similar sports; speed flying is when the speed wing is foot-launched, while speed riding (or ski gliding) is a winter sport done on skis.
Popular believe has it that the sport of Speed Riding was invented in the French Alps in the early nineties but they clearly overlooked Miura’s daring descend! He is simply the first person to combine skiing and parachuting on a massive scale and – without it being known by that name in that time – with that he became the world’s first Speed rider!
Climbing Everest 3 more Times
Then aged 70 Miura made world headlines once again climbing to the top of Everest. When he summited again at 75, he claimed to be the only man to accomplish the feat twice in his 70s. After that, he said he was determined to climb again at age 80.
In 2013 Miura returned back to Everest to fulfill his promise. He then was an 80-year-old Japanese man who began the year 2013 with his fourth heart operation! But that couldn’st stop this daredevil. He reached the summit at 9:05 a.m. local time on May 23rd, 2013, according to a Nepalese mountaineering official and Miura’s Tokyo-based support team.
“We have arrived at the summit,” Miura said in a radio transmission to Kyodo from the world’s highest point. “80 years and 7 months. … The world’s most incredible mountaineering team had helped me all the way up here.”
“I made it!” Miura said over the phone. “I never imagined I could make it to the top of Mount Everest at age 80. This is the world’s best feeling, although I’m totally exhausted. Even at 80, I can still do quite well.”
Miura conquered the mountain despite undergoing heart surgery in January for an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, his fourth heart operation since 2007, according to his daughter. He also broke his pelvis and left thigh bone in a 2009 skiing accident.
On his expedition’s website, he explained his attempt to scale Everest at an advanced age: “It is to challenge (my) own ultimate limit. It is to honor the great Mother Nature.”
A pretty damn crazy kickass dude that Miura is indeed.