Japanese climber with one finger to ascend Everest again this week

Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki during an interview in Kathmandu in this Aug 22, 2015. He lost nine fingers in 2012 on Everest to frostbite.
Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki during an interview in Kathmandu in this Aug 22, 2015. He lost nine fingers in 2012 on Everest to frostbite. PHOTO: REUTERS

KATHMANDU (AFP) - A Japanese climber with only one finger, who failed on the weekend to reach the top of Mount Everest in his latest attempt, will try again within days, expedition organisers said on Monday (Sept 28).

Nobukazu Kuriki, who lost nine fingers to frostbite in 2012 on Everest, is the only climber trying to summit the world's highest mountain this year after a quake-triggered avalanche killed 18 people at base camp.

The April disaster saw hundreds of climbers abandon their bids to ascend the 8,848m peak, marking a second spring season with virtually no one reaching the summit.

An avalanche in 2014 that killed 16 Nepali guides also sparked a shutdown that year.

The 33-year-old Kuriki, who was on his fifth attempt to climb Everest, descended in the early hours of Sunday fearing he would not return alive if he kept climbing.

"He is staying at base camp for a few days but will try again for the summit starting October 1st," said Tikaram Gurung, managing director of Bochi-Bochi Trek, which is handling Kuriki's expedition.

"He is in good physical condition and experienced no major problems on the climb," Gurung told AFP.

Kuriki will climb solo from base camp, in contrast to his earlier attempt when a six-person support team accompanied him to Camp 2 at a height of 6,400m, he said.

"He will use no bottled oxygen on his climb," Gurung added.

The risks are higher than normal at the moment on Everest because of regular aftershocks in Nepal which increase the chance of avalanches.

Mountaineering experts also say climbing in autumn is more dangerous than spring due to high winds and lower temperatures.

Kuriki said the final stretch to the top took too long on Sunday.

"I tried hard taking all my energy, but it took too much time to move in deep deep snow. I realised if I kept going, I wouldn't be able to come back alive, so I decided to descend," he posted on his official Facebook page.

Operators Himex and Altitude Junkies have also delayed their plans to summit Nepal's Manaslu peak, the world's eighth-highest mountain, citing waist-deep snow and exposure to avalanches en route to Camp 4, the final camp before the summit.

Mountaineering is a major revenue-earner for impoverished Nepal, home to eight of the world's 14 peaks over 8,000m.

But the April 25 earthquake which killed nearly 8,900 people raised fears for the immediate future of the tourism industry.

Apart from the Everest avalanche, it also destroyed the popular Langtang trekking route.