Kuriki shows off his frostbitten hands in the hospital (Source: Facebook)
When a severe wind storm hit Mt. Everest last weekend, Nobukazu Kuriki gave up his bold West Ridge summit attempt and turned back. The Japanese mountaineer's ambitious goal was to summit the mountain solo without oxygen via the West Ridge/Hornbein Couloir. Had he succeeded, the feat would have been one of the most remarkable ascents in recent history.
Instead, Kuriki suffered severe frostbite to his fingers, toes and nose during the attempt and had to be airlifted from Camp 2. He was taken to a hospital in Katmandu and, on Monday, transported to a hospital in Japan.
The failed summit bid is not a surprise, considering the numbers. Since the first successful summit via the West Ridge by Tom Hornbein and his partner Willi Unsoeld in 1963, only three other people have reached the top this way. Extreme conditions are common on the route, and it has the reputation as the hardest line up Everest. It is very steep and exposed, with no fixed ropes.
Kuriki says that details of the climb will be available on his Facebook page after his recovery.