KATHMANDU – Japan’s Nobukazu Kuriki, who attempted to climb Mount Everest twice this season, despite having lost nine fingers to frostbite while attempting the feat in 2012, said on Friday that he would return to the mountain next year.
Kuriki said at a news conference in Kathmandu that he would return to Everest “next year in the fall season, but maybe from the Tibet side.”
Kuriki gave up an attempt to reach the summit in bad weather last month after reaching an altitude of 7,800 meters, and an attempt earlier this month at 8,150 meters. He was aiming to become the first climber to scale the 8,848-meter mountain since devastating quakes this spring triggered an avalanche on Everest, killing 18 climbers and putting a stop to the climbing season.
“I tried twice but couldn’t scale the mountain due to strong wind and bad weather,” Kuriki said, adding, “I returned because forcing myself to go on could have led to an accident.”
He said the attempts were his small contribution to spreading the message that mountaineering in Nepal is safe.
Kuriki said Mount Everest was more beautiful from the Nepal side, but climbing it was better from the Tibet side.
“The mountain is not that different after the earthquake. There are fewer avalanches at the (Khumbu) Icefall,” said the 33-year-old Hokkaido native said, referring to one of the most dangerous stages of the ascent of Everest.
All of Kuriki’s attempts on the mountain have been in the less popular autumn season. The reason being, he said, was he preferred to challenge the mountain “alone and when it is not noisy.”
Mountaineering officials have termed Kuriki’s attempts this year as “exceptional” and “extraordinary,” given that deadly avalanches hit the mountain for two consecutive years. An avalanche in the spring of 2014 killed 16 Sherpas on the mountain.
“This (fall season) is not the right time to climb Mount Everest and other high 8,000-ers because the wind speed is so high,” said Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.
“We are grateful that he promoted Nepal’s mountaineering tourism during this difficult time,” Sherpa said.
Kuriki has successfully climbed the highest peaks of six continents, but Mount Everest continues to deny him glory.
In 2012, he tried to make it to the top via the difficult west ridge route but was evacuated to Kathmandu after suffering serious frostbite to his fingers, toes and nose. Nine of his fingers had to be partially amputated as a result.
The handicap makes it 0.5 times harder and more time-consuming to get things done, and also easier to become frozen, he said Friday.
The quakes in Nepal this spring killed nearly 9,000 people.