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Everest climber, 80, says he nearly died

TOKYO -- The 80-year-old Japanese mountaineer who last week became the oldest person to reach the top of Mount Everest says he almost died during his descent and does not plan another climb of the world's highest peak, though he hopes to do plenty of skiing.

Yuichiro Miura, who also conquered the 29,035-foot peak when he was 70 and 75, returned to Japan yesterday looking triumphant but ready for a rest. He was sympathetic toward an 81-year-old Nepalese climber who on Tuesday abandoned his attempt to climb Everest, and break Miura's record, due to worsening weather.

Miura and his son Gota, who has climbed Everest twice, said things went well during their expedition because they carefully paced themselves, walking only half-days and resting in the afternoons.

"We took our time," Miura said. "You get tired when you are old."

But Miura said he was dangerously weak at the beginning of his May 23 descent. Though he felt fine after he removed his oxygen mask on the summit to pose for photos and enjoy the view, he suffered for it on the way down.

"I lost strength in my legs," Miura said. "I could not move at all." Helped down by Gota and others, Miura revived after having some food and water at the team's 27,887-foot-high base camp.

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