By Agence France-Presse
A celebrated Japanese climber who lost all but one finger to frostbite on Everest has died on his eighth attempt to reach the summit, officials said Monday.
Nobukazu Kuriki had fallen ill and was descending when his team lost contact with him. The 36-year-old is the third climber this month to perish on the world’s highest peak.
“Kuriki stopped responding to radio communication and we couldn’t see his headlamp when we looked up from the bottom in the dark,” his team posted on Facebook.
“(The) team near Camp 2 climbed up his route to search for him and discovered Kuriki who passed away due to low body temperature.”
Late Sunday Kuriki had reached 7,400 meters, pushing beyond three of the four camps that mark the route to the 8,848 meter (29,029 foot) summit.
“Now I feel the pain and difficulty of this mountain. I appreciate it and I am climbing,” he wrote on Facebook.
The conquest of Everest always eluded the experienced mountaineer, who had achieved solo ascents of two other 8,000-meter peaks without the use of bottled oxygen.
On his fourth attempt to reach the top in 2012, Kuriki suffered severe frostbite and lost nine fingers.
He returned three years later in September 2015, months after an earthquake hit Nepal and triggered an avalanche that killed 18 people at Everest’s base camp.
Bad weather forced him to call off that expedition. He tried again in 2016 and 2017 but inclement conditions again frustrated his quest.
Man Bahadur Gurung of Bochi-Bochi Treks, who organized Kuriki’s expedition, said they were trying to arrange for his body to be flown back to Kathmandu.
More than 400 people have reached Everest’s summit during this spring climbing season when a period of calm weather typically opens the route to the top of the world.
Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest peaks and foreign climbers who flock to its mountains are a major source of revenue.
Apart from the three deaths on Everest, at least three other climbers have died on separate mountains in Nepal this month.
The body of a Malaysian climber was found over the weekend, five days after he went missing on the 6,812-meter (22,349 ft) Ama Dablam — a lower but technically difficult climb.