Asia

Japanese who lost nine fingers abandons Everest climb

Nobukazu Kuriki speaks during an interview in Kathmandu on 22 August 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Nobukazu Kuriki: "I realised if I kept going, I wouldn't be able to come back alive."

A Japanese mountaineer who had previously lost nine fingers to frostbite has abandoned his attempt to climb Mount Everest.

"I tried hard taking all my energy, but it took too much time to move in deep deep snow," Nobukazu Kuriki wrote on his Facebook page.

"I realised if I kept going, I wouldn't be able to come back alive," he wrote.

He took the decision after attempting a final push to reach the 8,848m (29,029ft) summit.

The 33-year-old was the first person to attempt the climb since Nepal's devastating earthquake in April.

It was the fifth time he had tried to reach the summit in the past six years.

Mr Kuriki wrote that he decided to abandon his attempt after leaving "the final camp" on Saturday evening.

"Thank you so much for all your support," he said.

He was following the same route used by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay when they became the first people to reach the summit in 1953.

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Nobukazu Kuriki is close to reaching the summit of Everest, in the top right of this image

Mr Kuriki prefers to climb in winter, alone and with minimal gear. "This is the purest form of climbing and it is worth the extra danger," he said earlier.

He has taken on Everest alone four times in the previous six years but has been forced to abandon the climb each time with the summit in view.

In 2012, he lost all of his fingers and one thumb after spending two days in a snow hole at 8,230m in temperatures lower than -20C.

His injuries present significant challenges in even the most basic climbing manoeuvres.

"I do feel nervous and afraid," he told Reuters shortly after arriving in Nepal a more than a month ago for acclimatising.

"This is only natural before attempting the challenge of climbing Everest, particularly after the earthquake and at this time of year."

Nepal's lucrative climbing industry was destroyed by the 25 April earthquake which killed more than 9,000 people and the avalanches that followed.

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