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pup_on_the_mountain

Two climbers missing on the Cassin

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Ran into these two Japanese climbers on Ruth Glacier. TAT dropped us off in front of their basecamp. Chatted with them in Japanese for a brief period as they were packing up their camp. They told me they were going to do West Buttress for accli and then to Cassin. Then, they hopped on the same plane that dropped us off...and they were off to Kahiltna....

 

Sad news indeed.

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From the Alpinist Newswire:

4:35 PM (7 hours ago)

Historic Enchainment on Denali

by Christian Beckwith

From May 11-May 18, Katsutaka Yokoyama, Yusuke Sato and Fumitaka Ichimura--three Japanese alpinists who comprise part of the so-called Giri-Giri Boys--linked up two of Denali's more difficult routes, the Isis Face (Alaska Grade 6: M4 5.8 A1, 60 degrees, 7,200' [to South Buttress], Stutzman-Tackle, 1982) and the Slovak Direct (Alaska Grade 6: 5.9, 100 degrees, 9,000', Adam-Korl-Krizo, 1984), in a continuous, eight-day push. The success was tempered by apparent tragedy, however, as two of their friends remain missing on Denali.

 

Starting on May 11, the three Japanese approached up the Southwest Fork of the Ruth Glacier then began up the Isis Face, which takes an elegant snow and ice line through rock buttresses to top out on the South Buttress (Alaska Grade 3: 60 degrees, 10,500', Argus-Thayer-Viereck-Wood, 1955). After climbing the lower sections of the Isis, they bivied in "a huge and comfortable ice cave," reports Yokoyama. Weather pinned them in the cave the next day, but on May 13 they continued with the climb, reaching the juncture with the South Buttress, then dropping down the Ramp Route (Alaska Grade 3: 55 degrees, 9,300', Kajiura-Nakamura-Nishimura, 1965) to the Northeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier and the base of Denali's 9,000-foot south face in the evening of May 14.

 

They began climbing the Slovak Direct the next morning at 7 a.m. Three days later they reached the juncture with the Cassin Ridge (Alaska Grade 5: 5.8 AI4, 65 degrees, 9,000', Alippi-Airoldi-Canali-Cassin-Perego-Zucchi, 1961). As numerous climbers over the years have discovered, the upper sections of the south face, while not technically difficult, can be exhausting, and the Japanese climbers found the trailbreaking at 20,000 feet after days of hard climbing difficult. Nonetheless, they summited the next day, then continued all the way down to Kahiltna International Airport at 7,000 feet, where they arrived on May 18.

 

The missing climbers, whose names are being withheld while their families arrive in Talkeetna, are also part of the Giri-Giri Boys. They had planned to climb the Cassin after first traversing Kahiltna Peak, but for unknown reasons gave up the traverse and repositioned themselves on the Northeast Fork of the Kahiltna. They are believed to have begun climbing sometime around May 14 or 15, but while Yokoyama sighted tracks on the upper part of the Cassin, he was unsure if they had been made by his friends. Maureen McLaughlin of the National Park Service reported that good weather in recent days allowed NPS aerial spotters "to make several flights under optimum observation conditions... but the climbers were not seen."

 

The enchainment, which marked the third ascent of the Isis Face and the fourth of the Slovak Direct, linked more than 16,000 vertical feet of difficult terrain over eight days--an enchainment so impressive that climbing historian Rolando Garibotti called it the "best ascent in Alaska history." But according to Yokoyama, the technical difficulties came from unexpected challenges. "The most difficult part of the route was descending the Ramp," said Yokoyama in a phone interview, "because it is so dangerous. It's pretty hard to find the correct line of descent. The Isis Face is such a beautiful line, but it was much easier than we imaginged: we simulclimbed the entire route, swinging leads. The Slovak Direct was just fun: the ice was good, the rock was solid, so we enjoyed the climbling." On the Slovak, each climber would lead two pitches before switching leads.

 

Over the last few years, the Giri-Giri Boys have been quietly pursuing some of the great remaining mountaineering objectives around the world. Last year Ichimura and Sato, along with Tatsuro Yamada, established three new routes in the Ruth Gorge (see the May 18, 2007 NewsWire for more information). This spring they spent a month on the Buckskin and Kahiltna glaciers until May 11 when they flew to the west fork of the Ruth, where they began the Denali push. More information about their ascents and an update on the missing climbers will be posted on Alpinist.com as soon as it is available.

 

Editor's Note: Issue 24, on sale June 1, features a twenty-four-page mountain profile on Denali. To learn more, check out the May 2007 High Camp.

 

Sources: Katsutaka Yokoyama, Rolando Garibotti, Paul Roderick, Jack Tackle, Maureen McLaughlin

 

 

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From the Alpinist Newswire again- names released:

 

Search Continues on the Cassin Ridge

by Erik Lambert

The names of two Japanese climbers missing on Denali's Cassin Ridge were released by the National Park Service last night. Tatsuro Yamada and Yuto Inoue were expected to return from their climb no later than May 22, but since then numerous observation flights have offered few leads on their whereabouts. The NPS continues the search by aircraft and foot.

 

Yamada and Inoue are Giri-Giri Boys who climbed in the Alaska Range with Katsutaka Yokoyama, Yusuke Sato and Fumitaka Ichimura throughout April 2008. In May the two decided to attempt the Cassin while the other three made the historic enchainment of the Isis Face and the Slovak Direct (read the May 27, 2008 NewsWire for more information).

 

In early May Yamada and Inoue acclimatized on the West Buttress. They planned to climb the Cassin after first traversing Kahiltna Peak, but for unknown reasons gave up the traverse and repositioned themselves at base camp (7,800') near the mouth of the Northeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier. It was here they were last seen on May 9. Journal entries found in base camp suggested an earliest climbing start date of May 10, and Yokoyama said their friends may have started climbing around May 14 or 15. The two planned to take five or six days on route; they carried enough food for that duration.

 

The search began on May 23, though poor conditions grounded an aerial search until the next morning. Initially cloud cover and high winds--some more than 100 mph above 17,200'--limited fixed-wing and Lama helicopter flights; however, in recent days, better conditions allowed the NPS to sweep large swaths and gather high resolution telephoto images that are being scrutinized for clues. Tracks were found at ca. 16,000', and a possible former tent site was discovered at ca. 17,000'. More information will be posted on Alpinist.com as it becomes available.

 

Sources: Katsutaka Yokoyama, Maureen McLaughlin, Paul Roderick

 

 

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May they RIP. :(

 

Rangers suspend search for missing climbers

 

The National Park Service suspended the search for two missing Japanese climbers on the Cassin Ridge of Mount McKinley this morning after determining searchers were unlikely to locate the men.

 

Mountaineering rangers will continue using digital images collected during the last week to try to find the climbers or their remains.

 

Tatsuro Yamada, 27, and Yuto Inoue, 24, were expected to return from a climb of the Cassin Ridge a week ago. In a discussion with Denali rangers a month before their climb, Yamada and Inoue said they planned to take five to six days of food and fuel on the Cassin Ridge. Normally, teams making a quick, technical ascent of the route take minimal gear.

 

Based on the dated journal entries, the men probably left their camp at 7,800 feet as early as May 10. That means they have been without food and water as long as 14 days, and search managers consider survival impossible at subzero temperatures with limited supplies.

 

The National Park Service began planning the search on Friday, and from Saturday to Tuesday, searchers flew 33 hours in helicopters and airplanes. Neither the climbers nor any gear was spotted on or near the route. No evidence of a fall or disturbed snow was seen either, the Park Service said.

 

More than 3.000 high-resolution photos of the search zone were taken during these flights. Analysis of the enlarged and enhanced images will continue on the ground.

 

Park Service official believe Yamada and Inoue reached the upper elevations of the route. They saw several sets of footprints and a campsite at 17,000 feet. Tracks followed by a subsequent climbing party reportedly reached upward of 19,000 feet.

 

Also, during a low-level flight Wednesday, mountaineering rangers in the Park Service's Lama helicopter discovered tracks traversing the 5-mile length of the Kahiltna Peaks.

 

According to the journals Yamada and Inoue left in camp, the team had intended to approach their route via that knife-edge ridge, which tops out at 13,440 feet. The tracks follow the dramatic ridgeline and connect with the Cassin Ridge, indicating the duo accomplished a difficult and highly technical new variation on the traditional approach.

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Above 17.5k to 19.5k is damned if you do unrope and damn if you don't unrope terrain with moderately steep terrain where placing gear is a PITA. We unroped. If their tracks were found up this high and they were roped together there is a good chance that a fall would have taken them down the hill. Damn sad after it sounds like they completed the lower Kahiltna Peak traverse which is damn proud.

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2 bodies lost in '08 found on Denali

 

Published: June 5th, 2009 03:43 PM

Last Modified: June 5th, 2009 04:23 PM

 

Searchers combing through high-resolution photos of Mount McKinley for the body of a doctor who has been missing for weeks have instead discovered the remains of two Japanese climbers who disappeared more than a year ago, according to the National Park Service.

 

The bodies of 27-year-old Tatsuro Yamada and Yuto Inoue, 24, were spotted earlier this week on the upper west face of the mountain. They vanished after an attempt of the Cassin Ridge in May 2008.

 

Their bodies, discovered Sunday using photos of the mountain taken in the search for Dr. Gerald Myers, were seen as partially buried figures connected by a rope in a steep rocky area west of the Cassin Ridge at 19,800-feet. The next day, a helicopter pulled in close and confirmed there were two frozen figures.

 

Based on their location, clothing, and rope color, park rangers identified them as Yamada and Inoue, both of Tokyo. Their families have been notified.

 

The bodies, however, will remain in place because of the "extreme risk posed to a recovery team," according to park officials.

 

The pair was expected to return from a climb of the Cassin Ridge on May 22, 2008, but they weren't seen again.

 

Park officials searched the mountain for a week, generating a total of 33 flight hours in helicopter and fixed wing search time. In that case, searchers took thousands of images that turned up numerous clues, including tracks and a possibly campsite, but the men weren't found.

 

In their search for Myers, a "more advanced camera and higher powered lens" were used and turned up their locations, park officials said.

 

Searchers have still found no sign of Myers, who disappeared last month on a solo attempt at summiting North America's highest peak. Searchers have called off the active search for him, saying he is missing and presumed dead.

 

They are continuing to examine the photos for evidence that could lead to his location.

Edited by wfinley

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Sometimes not a bad idea to change the subject line/headline to the present tense, especially for those of us with friends currently on Denali. :)

 

My condolences to the friends and families of Tatsuro Yamada and Yuto Inoue.

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In 1988 two friends and I climbed the Cassin Ridge. We had to hunker down for a couple days in extreme winds up high. On our way down from the summit we were resting at the 14000' camp. This fellow came up to us. He ask about conditions on the route, and said he was going to solo the route.

 

We told him what a nightmare we went through on the NE fork of the Kahiltna glacier going through the icefalls at the head. The three of us told him to at least find some folks headed that way to rope up with. That way he could solo the route from the base of the Japanese couloir.

 

I guess he attempted to solo the entire route. A month later a ranger from Denali called me. He ask what we knew about the fellow since we were some of the last people that talked to him. Apparently they found tracks near the base of the icefall. Tracks in the NE fork disapeared into debris from a huge slide. I don't believe they ever recovered a body.

 

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I guess he attempted to solo the entire route. A month later a ranger from Denali called me. He ask what we knew about the fellow since we were some of the last people that talked to him. Apparently they found tracks near the base of the icefall. Tracks in the NE fork disapeared into debris from a huge slide. I don't believe they ever recovered a body.

so that would sound like his decision to solo saved another guy from dying, no?

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Well we summited on July 1st, which is at the end of the climbing season on Denali. At least it sure looked like the end of the season judging by the lack of climbers a 14. We figured he'd never find anybody interested in going up the NE fork at that point, so he wouldn't try and solo through the icefall.

 

I guess he thought different.

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