HARKLOWA, Poland (Kyodo) Climbers from Kyoto University who scaled Afghanistan’s highest mountain more than half a century ago reunited Sunday with their Polish rivals for the first time since vying to become the first party to conquer the peak.
The reunion took place in the southern Polish village of Harklowa to commemorate both parties’ success in reaching the summit of 7,492-meter Mount Nowshak in August 1960 and rekindled the friendship they showed along the way.
“I’m deeply moved,” 78-year-old Toshiaki Sakai, one of the members of the Kyoto team, said at the reunion with tears in his eyes as he recalled the adventure. “The excitement I felt at the time just came back.”
The reunion was attended by about 35 people.
Goro Iwatsubo, 76, said memories of the support and kindness offered by the Polish team during the climb “will last a lifetime.”
The Kyoto University party, whose members reached the summit first, attributed their success largely to the support of the Poles, who provided them with food and an altimeter representing some of the latest technology of the time.
Stanislaw Biel, an 81-year-old member of the Polish party, returned the praise to the Japanese, saying, “Helping each other is the spirit of climbers, and we did use the tents left by the Japanese team.”
The climbers from Kyoto made history with their conquest of Nowshak, in the Hindu Kush range bordering Pakistan, on Aug. 17, 1960, while the Polish followed their footsteps to the summit 10 days later.
The members of both parties at the reunion erupted in cheers when a documentary shot by a Polish cameraman showed the moment the two parties met on the virgin mountain.
The Japanese side initially planned to arrange the reunion in Afghanistan but eventually abandoned the idea after considering the security situation in the war-torn country.
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