Nepal wants to limit age for Everest climbs after 85-year-old dies

KATHMANDU, Nepal -- Family and supporters on Sunday honored the 85-year-old climber who died attempting to regain his title as the oldest person to scale Mount Everest, while Nepali 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 scaling mountain peaks where the conditions are harsh and oxygen levels are low.

Under Nepali law, people have to be at least 16 years old to climb Everest, but there's no upper 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.

He said the association is planning to push the government to limit the age of climbers, hoping for a limit of 76, possibly younger.

Sherchan died 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. Since 1953, more than 4,000 have successfully summited the world's highest mountain . 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 country's tourism department, said the government is seriously discussing limiting the age for elderly climbers.

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, a grandfather of 17 and great-grandfather to six, 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.

Sherchan had trained for months before the attempt, telling the The Associated Press last month that he did not suffer from any respiratory problems and his blood pressure was normal. Born in the mountains, he said he did not have any problems with high altitude or the low levels of oxygen there.

At a funeral ceremony 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 burned sandalwood incense.

A government minister and fellow climbers were also among those who paid their respects.

The body was later cremated.

A renowned Swiss climber, Ueli Steck, who was training to scale Everest, died Sunday in a mountaineering accident.

The 2015 season was scrapped after 19 climbers died and 61 were injured by an avalanche at the base camp that was triggered by a massive earthquake. In 2014, an avalanche at the Khumbu Icefall killed 16 Sherpa guides.