Now a national hero of Japan, Miura was already 37 when he set out to ski down Everest but in many ways he still seems an arrested adolescent--but a happy kid. . . of 37. His object was to hit the fastest skiing speed ever achieved (he'd already gone downhill at over 107 mph during speed races in Italy and down Mount Fuji), and also to test a drag parachute for its help in maneuvering. At his speeds there's just no way to steer, avoid rocks and other horrors, or stop; he needs a straight-arrow path. We should say right now that he does not ski from the top of Everest, but he does set a ski altitude record of 26,516 feet. Ah, but first Miura finds that he has blimped in weight to 160 pounds and is grossly short of breath. He's not 30 anymore! And the most amusing part of his saga is his dieting and continuing problem with energy. But on the great day, he feels in the second prime of life. His spirit is dealt a major blow when six sherpas die in an icefall (a seventh died earlier)--but the very expensive expedition goes on up the Western Cwm toward the South Col, despite the wails of relatives of the dead. At 26,000 feet he finds the highest garbage dump in the world, jumbled useless equipment left behind by earlier expeditions. Then, in his radio-helmet, oxygen mask, and parachute, he sets off down the 45-degree slope of rocklike ice. The parachute doesn't work! there's not enough air up there to fill it, and he is absolutely controlless as he sizzles downward. Suddenly a rock looms ahead--and his skis are gone, vanished, he's moving like a cannonball and. . . . Well, he lived to win an Academy Award for the film of what happened. Crystal pictures, lively text.