A Japanese climber who lost nearly all his fingers on Everest has died on his eighth attempt to summit the mountain.
Nobukazu Kuriki, in his mid-thirties, fell ill and was descending on Monday when his team lost contact with him, his team said on Facebook.
“Kuriki stopped responding to radio communication and we couldn’t see his headlamp when we looked up from the bottom in the dark,” the post said.
“The team near Camp 2 climbed up his route to search for him and discovered Kuriki who passed away due to low body temperature,” it added. He had reached 7,400 meters.
Kuriki’s suffered serious damage from frostbite during his 2012 attempt on Everest’s West Ridge, losing all but one of his fingers. He could use his right thumb for grip but wasn’t able to fully use an ice axe — a critical part of a mountaineer’s safety equipment.
Kuriki was no stranger to Everest’s extreme conditions, from both the Chinese and Nepalese sides of the mountain.
In 2009, Chinese officials ordered him off the mountain before he could complete his climbing schedule.
Bad weather and a fatal accident with his crew ended a 2010 attempt from the Nepalese side of the mountain.
On a subsequent try in 2011, his tent poles, supplies and cooking gas were dug up by Himalayan crows at his final camp, and in 2012, extreme cold and high winds ended his quest and left him with serious frostbite.
He tried again in 2015, the first attempt by anyone after a devastating April 25 earthquake killed 19 people and injured 61 at the mountain’s base camp, the deadliest accident in Everest’s history. He was thwarted by poor conditions.
Attempts in 2016 and 2017 were also frustrated by bad weather.
He successfully climbed a number of 8,000-meter peaks without bottled oxygen in Nepal, including Cho Oyu, Manaslu, Dhaulagiri, and Mount Broad Peak, but the conquest of Everest, at 8,850 meters (29,035 feet), remained beyond him.
More than 10,000 climbers have tackled Everest since mountaineers began their assault on the massif in 1922, but it wasn’t until 1953 that Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay conquered the mountain.