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with Stefan Nestler

Nobukazu Kuriki died on Everest

Nobukazu Kuriki (1982 -2018)

The Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki has been found dead today on Mount Everest. The 35-year-old had reported yesterday from Camp 3 at 7,400 meters via Facebook. It was hard, said Kuriki, assuring he would be careful. This morning, his team informed that Nobukazu was in bad shape and that he was descending. Later, he did not respond to radio calls. His camera crew climbed up and found Kuriki lifeless near Camp 2.


Fever in Everest Base Camp

Kuriki en route to Everest in April

The Japanese had pre-acclimatized in his homeland by hypoxia training, then in Nepal did a very fast ascent of the 6038-meter-high Chulu Far East in the Annapurna area and subsequently trekked through the Khumbu to Everest Base Camp. Arriving there, he suffered from a strong cough and fever. He still had a slight cough, but it was almost gone, Kuriki had said two days ago on Facebook.

Solo and without bottled oxygen

Kuriki at 6,800 m in the Everest North Face in fall 2016

It was already Nobukazu’s eighth attempt on Everest. He had set his mind on climbing the highest mountain in the world without bottled oxygen and solo. In 2017, the Japanese had planned to climb through the Everest North Face. Because of the poor conditions in the wall, he switched from the north to the south side late in the spring season – with the aim of ascending via the West Ridge and the Hornbein Couloir in the upper part of the North Face to the highest point at 8850 meters. Bad weather prevented his project. In previous years, Kuriki had tried six times in vain to climb Everest in fall: five times from the Nepalese, once from the Tibetan side (in 2016).

Only one complete finger

After his Everest attempt in fall 2012

In October 2012, the Japanese had made headlines worldwide when he had tried to reach the summit via the West Ridge. The then 30-year-old said that he had to turn back at about 8,000 meters because of a storm. On his descent, Kuriki sent an emergency call. Sherpas climbed up to him, and the Japanese was flown by rescue helicopter from Camp 2 at 6,400 meters to a hospital in Kathmandu. Kuriki suffered severe frostbite. Nine fingers had to be amputated; only stumps were left – and only one complete thumb. The handicap did not stop his ambition to climb Everest – quite the contrary.

Dujmovits: “No Harakiri guy”

Kuriki (l.) and Dujmovits (r.) in spring 2017

“I have not experienced him as a Harakiri guy or as a daredevil,” says Ralf Dujmovits, who – as reported – is currently staying with his partner, the Canadian climber Nancy Hansen for a scientific study in a hypoxia chamber of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne for a month. Ralf had met Kuriki on the Everest north side in spring 2017. “He was pleasant, very open-minded and well organized. And he really listened to me.” On Dujmovits’s advice, the Japanese had finally given up his plan to ascend via the North Face. I ask Ralf whether Kuriki was obsessed with Everest. “When you do things like that, you have to be a little bit obsessed with an idea,” says Dujmovits. “He always wanted to be alone on the road, that says a lot about him.”


21. May 2018 | 18:14