Becoming the first Japanese woman to scale K2, the world's second-highest peak, was a life-altering experience for Yuka Komatsu, but it wasn't due to the sense of achievement of having survived the deadly summit.

Rather, it was seeing the way villagers around the mountain had integrated their lives with nature, a scene recalling the way her own grandparents had worked in rice fields, that set the photographer on a new path leading eventually to marriage to a man who had become a refugee of the Syrian civil war.

Komatsu made the ascent of the 8,611-meter "savage mountain" in the Karakoram Range, straddling Pakistan and China and considered arguably the most dangerous climb in the world, in 2006 after graduating from Tokai University, where she was the only woman in the alpine club.