Japan climber with no fingers abandons bid to scale Everest

Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki speaking during an interview in Kathmandu on Aug 22, 2015.
Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki speaking during an interview in Kathmandu on Aug 22, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - A Japanese climber who lost all his fingertips to frostbite and was trying to become the first person to conquer Mount Everest since its worst disaster has abandoned his bid to reach the summit because of poor weather.

Nobukazu Kuriki, 33, gave up his attempt about 700m below the summit of the 8,850m mountain. "I tried my best, but I judged that I would not be able to come back alive if I went any further given the strong winds and deep snow," Kuriki wrote on his Twitter account after descending some way on Thursday.

Climbers usually scale Everest and other Himalayan peaks in May, just before the rainy season sweeps in from the south bringing snow at high altitude.

But there is also a short climbing season in the autumn, after the summer rains ease.

Members of the climbing community in the Nepali capital of Kathmandu said Kuriki's summit attempt so late in the year was too dangerous, with the increased risk of avalanches and high winds capable of blowing people off the mountain.

It was Kuriki's first attempt to climb Everest since losing all of his fingertips on the mountain three years ago after spending two days in a snow hole at 8,230m in temperatures below minus 20 deg C.

Despite his disability, he can still grip an ice axe with one hand and pin it with the other. "I am grateful to everyone's support from the bottom of my heart," he said.

Kuriki had became an unlikely face of Nepal's efforts to revive its climbing industry after 18 mountaineers were killed in the Everest region in avalanches triggered by a big earthquake in April.

The earthquake in April, and a second big one in May, killed nearly 9,000 people across the poor Himalayan nation and the government has been trying to encourage a tourist revival.