Hundreds attend funeral for late climbing hero Watanabe

Kyodo

Famed alpinist Haruhisa Watanabe, who was killed in a traffic accident late last month in Russia, was honored Sunday at a funeral attended by relatives and friends.

Watanabe achieved fame in 2004 by becoming the youngest Japanese to scale the tallest peaks on seven continents when he was only 22. He died Dec. 26 after being hit by a car while biking in the Murmansk region, part of a cycling expedition through Central Asia he kicked off last June. He was 31.

The funeral in the climber’s hometown of Morimachi, Shizuoka Prefecture, was attended by about 200 people.

Many began crying when the adventurer’s father, Hiroyasu Watanabe, 57, read out a postcard he received from his son on Dec. 31, five days after the fatal accident: “I can’t seem to view the northern lights as there is a snowstorm every day.”