Asia, China, K2, North Ridge
K2, North Ridge. The Japanese Mountaineering Association led by Isao Shinkai and Masatsugu Konishi was composed of 14 climbers and 29 Japanese support people, since no high-altitude local porters were available. “Base Home” was established on May 5 at 12,650 feet on the Shaksgam River. Climbers and support personnel had carried four tons ten miles to Base Camp at 16,075 feet on the K2 Glacier by May 29. The support party withdrew on June 5 and climbing started on June 9. Camp I was placed at 19,000 feet on June 13 but bad weather for 22 of the next 34 days slowed progress. The route was on the north ridge at the edge of the northwest face. Camps II, III and IV were established at 21,650, 24,775 and 25,750 feet on July 17 and 24 and August 1 respectively. The last camp was on a north col. After rope was fixed to 26,250 feet, they all returned to rest at Base Camp. The summit push started on August 9. On August 14 Naoe Sakashita (an American Alpine Club member), Hiroshi Yoshino, Yukihiro Yanagisawa and Takashi Ozaki set out for the summit without oxygen, but Ozaki had to return from 26,900 feet. They climbed unroped above the end of the fixed rope with little equipment and mostly separate from each other. They turned left and climbed the big snowfield in the upper center of the north face. After climbing for some 12 hours, Sakashita reached the summit, soon followed by Yanagisawa. Yoshino arrived an hour later. On the descent Yoshino bivouacked at 27,550 feet and Sakashita and Yanagisawa at 27,400 feet. Yanagisawa had no down jacket and Sakashita hugged him all night long to keep him warm. In the morning Yoshino joined them. While Sakashita descended, the other two waited for the second summit team to bring them a climbing rope and hot tea. When the pair reached the fixed rope, Yoshino untied to straighten out the fixed rope. When he looked up, Yanagisawa had disappeared. On August 16 his jacket was sighted on the north face at 16,750 feet, but avalanche danger prevented a search. On August 15 Kazushige Takami, Haruichi Kawamura, Tatsuji Shigeno and Hironobu Kamuro reached the summit after having carried supplies to the descending climbers. After the mountain had been evacuated, Dr. Toshitaka Sakano on August 29 strolled up a small peak behind “Base Home.” He did not return. His body was found on the 31st. He had apparently fallen from a rock on the top and hurt himself. He had frozen to death while attempting to return. Details, photographs, maps, etc. appear in Iwa To Yuki, Numbers 85, 87, 91, and 92.