An 85-year-old Nepalese mountaineer named Min Bahadur Sherchan died on Saturday trying to become the oldest man to summit Mt. Everest. In 2008, when he was 76, he claimed the record. For five years, he was the oldest person ever to summit the world’s most famous peak. Then, in 2013, his record was broken by an 80-year-old Japanese man named Yuichiro Miura. Sherchan was attempting to get it back when he died.
“Since his record was broken, he wanted to regain it,” said Ang Tshering Sherpa, the president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association. While it’s not immediately clear exactly how he died, government officials suspect it was a heart attack. He died just after 5 p.m. at the base camp and his body was taken to Kathmandu for an autopsy.
Sherchan, a lifelong climber, was born in 1931 in a village called Bhurung Tatopani in Western Nepal. In his last few years, he was focused on regaining his title and was in good overall health. He tried to climb Everest for three consecutive years, in 2013, 2014, and 2015, but none of his attempts were successful. In 2014, the climb was called off after 16 sherpas died in an avalanche, then in 2015, an earthquake killed over 8,000 people in the area.
According to Sherpa, Sherchan was in great shape. “He used to walk for 14 to 15 kilometers every day,” he told The New York Times. “He was physically well, but he was challenged by his age. He is a person with a strong will. He always wanted to make Nepal proud. We are very sad because of his death.”
Sherchan’s death comes just days after Ueli Steck, known as the Swiss Machine, died on a nearby peak called Nupste.