The recent deaths of 10 hikers in Hokkaido’s Taisetsu mountain range serve as a tragic reminder that even summer mountaineering can be perilous. Hiking in bad weather, the 10 — all in their 50s and 60s — died from hypothermia. One was on a guided tour of 2,052-meter Mount Biei. The other nine were climbing 2,141-meter Mount Tomuraushi, with eight on a guided tour and one doing a solo ascent.

Guided mountain tours are popular these days, especially with the middle-aged and elderly. But participants must keep in mind that the presence of guides does not necessarily ensure that the tour is safe. In times of trouble, hikers must ultimately rely on their own judgment and strength. Before deciding to take part in a mountain tour, people should determine whether they are in sufficiently good health and possess the necessary strength for such an event, and whether the tour includes arrangements for emergency evacuation in the event of bad weather. They must also make sure they have the proper gear. Even in summertime, both warm and waterproof clothing is essential equipment when climbing mountains.

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