American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Yuko Maki, 1894-1989

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1990



The American Alpine Club lost a distinguished honorary member on May 2, 1989 when Yuko Maki died from a heart ailment in Tokyo. He had been an Honorary Member since 1959.

Yuko Maki was bom on February 5, 1894 at Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. In 1917, he graduated with a degree in law from Keio University in Tokyo. He studied at Columbia University in 1918 and in 1919 he continued his studies in England at the British Museum. He became interested in mountain climbing in 1914 and joined the Japanese Alpine Club that same year. From 1919 to 1921 he made many excellent ascents in Switzerland. The most notable of these was the first ascent of the difficult Mittellegi Ridge on the Eiger. In 1922 he made the first winter ascent of Yarigatake. He made many ascents in 1923 and 1924 with Prince Chichibu in the Japanese Alps.

In 1925, he was the leader of a group from the Japanese Alpine Club, sponsored by Marquis (later Count) Mori Tatsu Hosokawa. Six Japanese and three Swiss guides succeeded in making the first ascent of Mount Alberta in the Canadian Rockies. They were said to have left on the summit a silver ice axe. The peak was not climbed again until 1948, when John Oberlin and Fred Ayres retrieved the ice axe. It was not made of silver but there were the intitials MTH engraved in gold leaf in its tip. In 1926, with Prince Chichibu he enjoyed climbing around Zermatt, including the ascent of the Matterhorn.

In 1956, at the age of 62, Yuko Maki led the fourth Japanese expedition to Manaslu. After three previous unsuccessful tries, his expedition made the first ascent, placing two teams on the summit.

When he returned to Japan from Europe in 1921, he brought with him not only various kinds of improved new mountaineering equipment but also advanced climbing techniques. He was one of the most influential motive powers of mountaineering in Japan. We cannot forget his kind instruction and his fair, warm personality.

He received many awards. He was an honorary member of the Alpine Club, American Alpine Club, Swiss Alpine Club, Japanese Alpine Club and Japanese Mountaineering Association. He was president of the Japanese Alpine Club from 1944 to 1946 and from 1951 to 1955 and of the Japanese Mountaineering Association from 1967 to 1969. He was given the award of Person of Cultural Merits in 1956.

Ichiro Yoshizawa

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