Award-winning alpinist Kei Taniguchi was found dead Tuesday on a mountain in the snow-covered Daisetsuzan range in central Hokkaido, police said.

Taniguchi, the first woman to win the prestigious Piolet d'Or (Golden Ice Axe) mountaineering award in 2009, apparently slipped and fell after scaling 1,984-meter Mount Kuro in a party with four men, according to members of the group who alerted police at 2:50 p.m. Monday.

The 43-year-old Taniguchi disappeared after detaching herself from a rope tied to other members in order to wash, her teammates said. They reported then finding marks in the snow indicating she had slipped, and a pair of gloves believed to be hers were found on a nearby slope, according to the police.

Taniguchi scaled Mount Everest in 2007 and was an experienced mountaineer, with an official at the Japanese Alpine Club describing her as "one of the world's most skilled female climbers."