Honouring Japanese mountaineers
10 Oct 2007
The UIAA is presenting three Japanese mountaineers with awards for their contributions to international mountaineering and the UIAA. Junko Tabei, Tomatsu Nakamura and Tadao Kanzaki will receive their awards at the General Assembly 2007, taking place 5-6th October in Matsumoto, Japan.
Junko Tabei axed out her place in history as the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1975. Seventeen years later she proved she was still a pioneer, becoming the first woman to climb all of the Seven Summits. Ms Tabei has proved that conquering mountains, even the tallest in the world, isn’t a matter of physical strength and masculine build, but something a one and a half meter tall, slender woman can achieve by sheer willpower and hard work.
Ms Tabei is deeply worried about the damage caused to Mount Everest by expeditions. She has written a Master’s thesis about the garbage problems in the Himalayas and as director of the Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan, she campaigns to protect the mountain environment.
At 68, Ms Tabei still has no plan to give up climbing. Her goal is to climb the highest peak of every country in the world, and she has so far reached 48 of them – ranging from Denmark’s 173 meter hill Yding Skovhøy to the highest mountain on earth.
Tomatsu Nakamura is a renowned mountaineer, explorer and dedicated editor of the Japanese Alpine News. He is the leading authority on the so-called Alps of Tibet. During his 28 expeditions in 17 years he has mapped this region extensively and has estimated that it still has 200 unclimbed 20,000-feet (6096 meters) peaks. These lesser-known mountains are now inspiring and attracting many climbers from all over the world.
Journals and newspapers have quoted Mr Nakamura’s reports about the results of climate changes. Particularly he has written and spoken about glacial retreats and the melting of snow and ice in high mountains.
The Japanese Alpine Club has awarded Mr. Nakamura the Prince Chichibu Memorial Mountain Prize for his achievements. He is also an Honorary Member of the American Alpine Club and the Himalayan Club.
Tadao Tanzaki has been a delegate to UIAA General Assemblies and council meetings for over 20 years. In 1994 he took part in the founding of the Union of the Asian Alpine Associations (UAAA) and in 1991 he helped form The Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan. He has been active in this foundation’s work to promote mountain protection and has particularly focused on environmental activities for Asian youth.
Mr Tanzaki is now 67 years old and currently the vice-president of the Japanese Alpine Club. He is very grateful to his international and Japanese climbing friends who have made it possible for him to take part in UIAA meetings without being able to speak English very well.
Kanzaki ironically calls himself a tragic mountain climber, as he has made four attempts to climb Mount Everest, but never made it to the summit because of heart problems. Luckily that has not stopped him from enjoying the mountains. He has climbed all over the world and still goes hiking 10-15 days a month with old friends. After the Matsumoto General Assembly Mr Kanzaki will be retiring from his positions in the UIAA and the UAAA.