KATMANDU, Nepal — An 80-year-old Japanese man who began the year with his fourth heart operation became the oldest conqueror of Mount Everest on Thursday, a feat he called "the world's best feeling" even with an 81-year-old Nepalese climber not far behind him.
Yuichiro Miura, a former extreme skier who also climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak when he was 70 and 75, reached the summit at 9:05 a.m. local time, according to a Nepalese mountaineering official and Miura's Tokyo-based support team.
It was a moment Japanese news agency Kyodo captured on video from 10 kilometers (6 miles) away, using a camera crew at 5,500 meters (18,000 feet) elevation on another mountain.
"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."
Miura and his son Gota made a phone call from the summit, prompting his daughter Emili to smile broadly and clap her hands in footage shown by Japanese public broadcaster NHK.
"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."
Nepalese mountaineering official Gyanendra Shrestha, at the Everest base camp, confirmed that Miura had reached the summit and was the oldest person to do so.
The previous oldest was Nepal's Min Bahadur Sherchan, the 81-year-old on Miura's heels.
Sherchan is preparing to scale the peak next week despite digestive problems he suffered several days ago. On Wednesday, Sherchan said by telephone from the base camp that he was in good health and "ready to take up the challenge."
The two elderly mountaineers have crossed paths before.
Miura, who had become the oldest Everest climber with his ascent at age 70, would have reclaimed the title in 2008 as a 75-year-old, but Sherchan, then 76, reached the summit just a day before he did.
Emili Miura said Wednesday that his father he "doesn't really care" about the rivalry. "He's doing it for his own challenge."
Sherchan's team leader, Temba, who uses one name, said Sherchan will congratulate the new record holder when he returns to the base camp, and that he won't turn back until he completes his mission.
Sherchan got good news Thursday when Nepal's government approved financial aid for his climb. The Cabinet approved 1 million rupees ($11,200) for Sherchan's expedition and waived $70,000 in permit fees, said Bimal Gautam, the press adviser to the Chairman of the Council of Ministers.
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."
He said a successful climb would raise the bar for what is possible, a point echoed after his success by Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.
"This will be deeply touching to all the people of Japan. And, especially, in an aging society, it will also give much courage and hope to all elderly people," Suga said at a news conference.
Miura became famous when he was a young man as a daredevil speed skier.
He skied down Everest's South Col in 1970, using a parachute to brake his descent. The feat was captured in the Oscar-winning 1975 documentary, "The Man Who Skied Down Everest." He has also skied down Mount Fuji.
It wasn't until Miura was 70, however, that he first climbed 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.
Associated Press writers Malcolm Foster and Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report from Tokyo.
Related on HuffPost:
A long exposure of the Mount Everest range seen from Syangboche, a small Himalayan settlement some 140kms (87 miles) northeast of Kathmandu on December 4, 2009. (PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)
Nepalese young climber Nima Chemji Sherpa is welcomed by family and friends on her arrival at Tribhuvan domestic airport after summiting Mount Everest, in Kathmandu on May 25, 2012. Nima Chemji reached Everest summit on 19 May 2012 and she claims to be the youngest woman ever to scale Mount Everest. (PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/GettyImages)
Nepalese mountaineer Apa Sherpa, who has scaled Mount Everest a record-breaking 21 times, is photographed while on the Great Himalaya Trail, one of the longest and highest trekking routes in the world, in the Nepalese Himalayas on February 13, 2012. ( Sameer Jung THAPA/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on May 17, 2010 shows Nepalese sherpas after retrieving two corpses of climbers that were left on the world's highest mountain during the Everest clean-up expedition at Mount Everest. Since 1953, there have been some 300 deaths on Everest. Many bodies have been brought down, but those above 8,000 metres have generally been left to the elements -- their bodies preserved by the freezing temperatures. (NAMGYAL SHERPA/AFP/Getty Images)
In this Thursday, May 9, 2002 file photo, Tamae Watanabe, right, of Japan poses with a photograher Noriyuki Muraguchi at a base camp on the foot of Mt. Everest in Nepal. A 73-year-old Watanabe has climbed Mount Everest, smashing her own record to again become the oldest woman to scale the world's highest mountain. (AP Photo/Office Seven Summits, File)
In this Oct. 19, 2011 file photo courtesy of SNV Nepal, Great Himalaya Trail Development Programme, a trekker sits by Birendra Lake in the Manaslu region, part of the Great Himalaya Trail route, in Nepal. In the shadow of Mount Everest and its magnetic lore, a cross-border route with a grand name, the Great Himalaya Trail, is being touted as an epic, untapped alternative to the bucket-list trek to base camp on the world's highest mountain. (AP Photo/SNV Nepal, Great Himalaya Trail Development Programme, Samir Thapa, File)
In this Oct. 27, 2011 file photo, the last light of the day sets on Mount Everest as it rises behind Mount Nuptse as seen from Tengboche, in the Himalaya's Khumbu region, Nepal. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer, File)