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Asia, Nepal, Mount Everest, Fifth Ascent

Mount Everest, Fifth Ascent. The expedition of the Japanese Alpine Club had 23 climbers, four doctors, three scientists and nine journalists, plus 45 Sherpas. The overall leader was 71-year-old Saburo Matsukata; climbing leader was Hiromi Otsuka. Base Camp was established at 17,500 feet on March 23. They were camped on the South Col on April 28. On April 21 Kyoshi Narita died of what was described as heart failure at Camp I at 20,000 feet. (Could this have been high-altitude pulmonary edema?) The Sherpa Kyak Tsering died in the Khumba Icefall under a collapsed sérac. The highest camp, Camp VI, was on the south summit. On May 11 Teruo Matsuura and Naomi Uemura reached the summit and on May 12 Katsutoshi Hirabayashi and the Sherpa Chottare repeated the climb. A woman, Setsuko Watanabe got to the South Col, probably a woman’s altitude record. The southwest-face party reached 26,400 feet. In the post-monsoon season of 1969, the Japanese climbed to nearly that high up a broad couloir that rises from the floor of the Western Cwm. The couloir is barred at above 26,000 feet by the central buttress. In 1970 there was much less snow than in the previous fall and progress was slower than it had been when more of the climbing was on snow. There was more rockfall. On May 10 Iwao Kano and Hiroshi Sagano reached 26,400 feet and had a good look at the central buttress. There seem to be possibilities either of continuing to the left and onto the west ridge or of continuing up a deep chimney towards the Yellow Band and up the face. They abandoned the effort because of heavy rockfall.