By Binaj Gurubacharya / Associated Press
KATHMANDU, Nepal — Family and supporters on Sunday honored an 85-year-old Nepali man who died trying to regain his title as the oldest person to climb Mount Everest, while officials stressed the need to limit the age for such a daunting physical challenge.
The death of Min Bahadur Sherchan has revived concerns about allowing elderly people to attempt to scale peaks where the conditions are harsh and oxygen level low.
Nepali law requires Everest climbers to be at least 16 but there’s no upper age limit.
“It is very necessary to immediately bring that age limit law. If there had been a limit, the loss of life could have been prevented,” said Ang Tshering, head of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.
The association is planning to push the government to limit the age of climbers to at least 76, he said.
Sherchan died on Saturday evening at the Everest base camp. Another Nepali man, Shailendra Kumar Upadhyaya, died in 2011 at age 82 while attempting to scale Everest.
Hundreds of climbers have died on Everest alongside the more than 4,000 who’ve successfully summited the world’s highest mountain since 1953. Bottled oxygen and better climbing equipment have helped reduce deaths significantly in recent decades, along with satellite communication equipment and better medical facilities.
Dinesh Bhattarai, who heads the Tourism Department, said that the government is seriously discussing an upper age limit.
Sherchan’s body was flown by helicopter to Kathmandu on Sunday. The cause of death was still unclear and the autopsy result will be available in a few days.
Sherchan had first scaled Everest in May 2008 when he was 76 — at the time becoming the oldest climber to reach the top. But his record was broken in 2013 by 80-year-old Japanese Yuichiro Miura.
At a funeral ceremony held at the Thakali Service Society premises in Kathmandu, hundreds of family members, friends and supporters offered flowers and colorful scarfs while Buddhist monks chanted a hymn and burnt sandalwood incense.
A government minister and fellow climbers were also among those who paid their respects.
The body was later cremated.
Sherchan is survived by a wife, seven children, 17 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.