RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN – For 80-year-old alpinist Tsuneo Miyamori, reaching the summit of an unconquered peak is far more significant than following thousands of other climbers in ascending famous mountains.
In July, Miyamori successfully led a joint Japanese-Pakistani team to the 6,105-meter summit of a peak in the Karakoram Range, which spans the borders of Pakistan, India and China. He christened it “The Peak of Hope” to promote Japan’s recovery from the March 2011 disasters.
“Nearly 4,000 people already have scaled Mount Everest, but I wanted to conquer a mountain no one has ever climbed to the top of — even if its summit is lower,” Miyamori said.
Fifteen members of the Japanese Alpine Club’s Fukushima chapter took part in the expedition, with three making it to the summit. Four Pakistani climbers also completed the ascent.
A native of Aizuwakamatsu in Fukushima Prefecture, Miyamori learned to climb as a member of the alpine club while studying at Tokyo University of Agriculture and has devoted his life to mountaineering ever since.
After the Fukushima chapter requested his assistance to plan an event to promote mountaineering, Miyamori in 2010 started organizing an expedition to some of the Karakoram’s untouched peaks. He is extremely familiar with the area, having surveyed and mapped its mountains for 30 years.
The Great East Japan Earthquake put his plans on hold, however. The disasters damaged a craft shop that Miyamori had run for about 40 years in Aizuwakamatsu, and forced some of his mountaineering acquaintances to evacuate amid the ensuing nuclear disaster.
But with his friends’ backing and inspired by the prefecture’s postdisaster slogan — “Future from Fukushima” — he decided to resume preparations and raise funds for the project
The Pakistani government traditionally grants the first climber or team that conquers an unnamed, unscaled mountain the right to name it, and Miyamori decided on “The Peak of Hope” to send a message of hope to the disaster-hit Tohoku region.
“The Karakoram is different from Japanese mountain ranges in terms of scale and there are many other mountains” that have yet to be climbed, Miyamori said. “If there are any more chances, I would definitely like to show young people the way to those peaks.”