The Japanese climbing thread


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 1 - 12 of total 12 in this topic

Sport climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 17, 2015 - 10:46am PT

Remembering Yuko Maki

Maki Yūkō (槇 有恒 Yūkō Maki, born 5 February 1894 in Sendai, died 2 May 1989 in Tokyo), also known as Maki Aritsune, was a Japanese mountain climber.

Maki climbed Mount Fuji at the age of ten. He made many climbs in his teens, including Mount Aso. He established a climbing club while studying law at Keio University in Tokyo, from which he graduated in 1919. He continued his studies in the United States and Great Britain.

Besides numerous climbs in Switzerland in the period from 1919 to 1921, on 10 September 1921 he made the first ascent of the Eiger by the Mittellegigrat (northeast ridge) with mountain guides Fritz Amatter, Samuel Brawand and Fritz Steuri. He made a donation of 10,000 Swiss francs toward the construction of the Mittellegi Hut.

In 1922 he made the first winter ascent of Mount Yari (3,180 metres (10,430 ft)) in Japan. In 1925, with five other Japanese mountaineers and three Swiss mountain guides, he made the first ascent of Mount Alberta (3,619 metres (11,873 ft)) in the Canadian Rockies. The expedition was sponsored by Prince Chichibu.

In 1926 he was again in the Alps, making the ascent of the Matterhorn via the Zmuttgrat and climbing with Prince Chichibu.

Maki's climbing career was interrupted by World War II, preventing him from leading a Japanese expedition to the Himalayas. In 1956 Maki led the third Japanese expedition to the Nepalese mountain Manaslu. Expedition members Toshio Imanishi and Sherpa Gyalzen Norbu made the first ascent of Manaslu on 9 May 1956.


1988 - Ehrenmitglied des japanischen Alpenclubs, Abschied von Yuko Maki

Seither sind wieder dreissig Jahre vergangen. Wir haben uns nie mehr getroffen, und trotzdem riss der Kontakt mit Herrn Maki, aber auch mit den andern japanischen Freunden, nie ab. Im Dezember 1988 wurde ich zu meiner Freude gar zum Ehrenmitglied des Japanischen Alpenclubs ernannt, und letztes Jahr noch brachte mir meine Enkelin Grüsse von Herrn Maki, den sie in seinem Heim hatte besuchen dürfen. Anfangs Mai dieses Jahres telegrafierte mir Herr Taguchi, Herr Maki sei gestorben. Mit ihm ist von den vieren, die am 10. September 1921 abends sieben Uhr
auf dem Gipfel des Eigers standen, der dritte ins Grab gesunken. Ich werde der letzte sein.

Dem gütigen Geschick bin ich aus tiefster Seele dankbar, dass es mich mit Yuko Maki, diesem bedeutenden Alpinisten und trefflichen Menschen zusammengeführt hat. Ohne unsere Begegnung wäre mein Leben ganz anders verlaufen.

Grindelwald, im Juli 1989

Samuel Brawand

First Ascent of the Eiger's Mittellegi Ridge, 1921:
Japanese climber Yuko Maki made the first successful ascent of the Mittellegi Ridge with Swiss guides Fritz Amatter, Samuel Brawand, and Fritz Steuri on 10 September 1921. Amatter had descended the ridge in 1904.

First ascent of Mount Alberta, Canadian Rockies, 1925
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.

First ascent of Manaslu, 1956
1956: A 12-member Japanese Alpine Club party, led by Yuko Maki, finally made the first ascent of Manaslu in spring. From the North Col to the plateau, they took a little bit different line from the former attempt and made C 6 at a 7800 m point on the summit plateau. On May 9, Toshio Imanishi and Sirdar Gyalzen Norbu reached the summit. Two days later on the 11th, Kiichiro Kato and Minoru Higeta also made the summit. It was the first 8000 er for the Japanese climbers.

This thread was inspired by one of Neebee's recent posts and it is an invitation to Japanese climbers to post.

Sport climber
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 15, 2016 - 08:34am PT

Japan has seen many great ice axe blacksmiths. One of the best is Mr. Futamura.

I was lucky to find a well kept Futamura some time ago.

Mr. Futamura no longer produces ice axes because he lost his blacksmith tools in a fire accident a couple of years ago, but he still maintains old ice axes by polishing or changing wood shafts.

Here you see Mr. Futamura at work lately:

Thanks to Nobi for the photos.

Sport climber
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 15, 2016 - 08:51am PT

Kei Taniguchi

In 2009, Taniguchi and her partner Kazuya Hiraide received the Piolet d'Or after completing the first ascent of the Southeast Face of Kamet (7756m) in India, via the route Samurai Direct (WI5+ M5+, 1800m). Taniguchi was the first woman to win this award for climbs that represent the "spirit of alpinism." Her name is listed in ten entries in the American Alpine Journal from 2005 to 2015 for her significant climbs in Alaska, Nepal, Tibet, Pakistan and China.

Taniguchi's essay "Being with the Mountain" appears in our latest issue, Alpinist 52—Winter 2015, as part of a feature on modern women alpinists titled "Freedom in the Hills."

"To me, exploring unknown mountains resembles life itself," she wrote in Alpinist 52. "Like many people, I exist, today, entangled in immense infrastructures of data. But I'd like my future to remain mysterious. I want to visit regions with the least available information—to encounter raw nature as it truly is. When I begin to see and touch the land, I'll start discovering what I can do, how I can climb beyond the imaginable."

Taniguchi's Selected Climbs (From Alpinist 52)

2005: Second ascent in alpine style of the southeast ridge of Muztagh Ata (7546m), Kun Lun, China; and partial new route on the north face of Shivling (6543m), Himachal Pradesh, India, with Kazuya Hiraide.

2008: First ascent of the Samurai Direct (M5+ AI5, 1800m), Southeast Face, Kamet (7756m) Garhwal Himalaya, India, with Kazuya Hirade, receiving a 2009 Piolet d'Or.

2011: First south-to-north traverse of Naimona'nyi (Gurla Mandhata, 7694m), Tibet, including the first ascent of Gurla's south summit, Naofeng Peak (7422m), with Kazuya Hiraide.

2014: First ascent of Mansail (6242m), Mustang region, Nepal, as the technical advisor to four female college students, Eri Hasegawa, Yukiko Inoue, Kaho Mishima and Mariko Nakamura.

2014: First ascents of the Wasabi Concerto (AI4+ M5+ R) and the Wasabi Sonatine (WI4 M4) on the northeast buttress of Peak 11,300'; a possible new variation, the Wasabi Prelude (V 60 degrees), on the south face and a repeat of the east face (WI4 AI5 M5) of Mt. Dan Beard (10,260'), Ruth Gorge, Alaska Range, Alaska, with Junji Wada, earning a Piolet d'Or Asia.

The journalist and historian Luca Signorelli, who climbed with Taniguchi in Italy's Susa Valley in 2010, writes:

"She was a beautiful, intelligent, strong and cheerful woman, a great climber and a popular and skillful mountain bicycling tour guide. Kei's humor, grace and charm will indeed stay with me forever."

Chris Van Leuven,


Feb 15, 2016 - 01:25pm PT
[Click to View YouTube Video]

Sport climber
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 15, 2016 - 01:28pm PT


Thanks for adding to the thread... Yuji is a rock climbing legend...

Mountain climber
Tustin, CA
Feb 16, 2016 - 10:42am PT
Excellent craftsmanship on that axe Marlow! TFPU

Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Feb 17, 2016 - 01:25am PT
Marlow, may I post these photographs on your thread? This is the only climbing gear "made in Japan" that I have been able to find during these past years. Unfortunately, I have never found any nut or cam made over there (apart from a home made(?) steel T shape nut that was given to me by Marty).

Feb 17, 2016 - 01:47am PT
holy f*#k marlow.

that is one of the most beautiful pieces of climbing gear i have ever seen.

i take it you own it?

if so, color me green.

Feb 17, 2016 - 05:44am PT

Thats a real name?

Sport climber
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 17, 2016 - 09:22am PT

Roots and Nah000: The Futamura is made by a master craftsman and is very well balanced.

Nutstory: Nobi is the man for you if you want a Japanese connection. He is inbetween selling Japanese climbing equipment on eBay.

Sport climber
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 17, 2016 - 09:41am PT

GCF: Thanks for linking the Naoe Sakashita article.

Naoe Sakashita

Naoe Sakashita: curriculum vitae

1966: Mt. Houou-sanzan (2844m), Japanese Alps, first climb.

1970: Joins Sangaku-Doshikai Alpine Club.

1973: Graduates from Waseda University. Annapurna II (7937m), Himalaya, Nepal, attempt, to 7700 meters.

1973-79: Studies at Waseda University, Literature Department.

1976: Wall of Shadows (ED+, ca. 3200m), north face, Jannu (7710m), Himalaya, Nepal, first ascent, with Nobuyuki Ogawa and Shomi Suzuki. Noshaq (7492m), Hindu-Kush, Afghanistan, ascent, with Dr. Toshitaka Sakano and Koji Takeda.

1978: Tokyo Speed Climbing Competition, first place. Japan National Climbing Competition, second place. International Speed Climbing Competition, Yalta, Russia, fourteenth place. American Direct (ED1: 5.10+, 1100m), west face, Petit Dru (3733m), Mont Blanc massif, France, ascent, with Shohei Wada.

1979: Translates Climbing Ice, by Yvon Chouinard.

1980: North Face Direct, Kanchenjunga (8598m), Himalaya, Nepal, first ascent, with Ryohei Fukada, Haruichi Kawamura and Shomi Suzuki. British Mountaineering Council annual meeting, lecturer. Annapurna I (8091m), Himalaya, Nepal, first winter attempt (solo; reaches 6700m).

1981: Teton Range, Wyoming, and Yosemite Valley, California, various ascents. North ridge, K2 (8611m), Karakoram, China, reconnaissance.

1982: Leads Japanese team on a Scottish winter climbing exchange. North Ridge, K2, first ascent, with Yukihiro Yanagisawa. Establishes Chouinard Japan, a distributor of climbing equipment.

1984: East face, Tawoche (6501m), reconnaissance, with John Roskelley and Jim Bridwell. Southwest Ridge (VI 5.9 60 degrees, 1500m), Ama Dablam (6812m), solo ascent. Founds Lost Arrow, Ltd.

1985: Southeast Face, Tawoche (6501m), Himalaya, Nepal, second ascent, with Kazuhiro Onomura, Haruo Toyoda and Kazuo Yagi. Ariaki-Sakashita (VI 5.7 65 degrees, 1400m), west face, Ama Dablam (6812m), first ascent.

1988: Marries Mutsuko Matsuki. Daughter, Mariko, born.

1989-2005 Board Member, Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd.

1990: Son, Lynn, born. Translates Himalayan Climber, by Doug Scott.

1991: The Nose (VI 5.9 A2, 2,900'), Salathe (5.9 C2, 2,900'), The Shield (VI 5.9 A3, 2,900'), El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, California, ascents. Northeast Face (V 5.9 C1, 2,000'), Half Dome, ascent.

1993: West Face (Alaska Grade 5: VI 5.9 A2), Mt. Huntington (12,240'), Alaska Range, Alaska, forty-three-hour round-trip, with Hideaki Shibuya. Lowe-Kennedy (Alaska Grade 4: 80 degrees, 6,700'), north face, Mt. Hunter (14,570'), Alaska Range, Alaska, sixty-three-hour push (descent via the 8,000-foot West Ridge), with Hideaki Shibuya. Daughter, Hanako, born.

1994: Original Route (ED2, 1800m) north face, Eiger (3970m), Switzerland, ascent, with Fumio Yoneyama.

1996: Californian Route (TD+: 5.11 55 degrees, 650m), Fitz Roy (3405m), Patagonia, Argentina, ascent, with Hideaki Shibuya.

1997: Schmid Route (ED1, 1000m), north face, Matterhorn (4478m), Switzerland, winter ascent, with Bruce Normand. Guest speaker at The American Alpine Club annual meeting.

1998: Melungtse (7181m) and Gaurishankar (7145m), Himalaya, Nepal, attempts.

2005: Millenium Falcon (V 11b, 14 pitches) and Ultimate Everything (IV 11a, 10 pitches) in a day, Squamish, Canada, with Greg Foweraker.


Naoe Sakashita is a certified badass. First ascent of the N. Ridge of K2 in 1982, first solo ascent of Amadablam, a first ascent on Amadablam, and all kinds of other stuff that I will never do. He’s been the Japanese distributor for BD, and Chouinard gear before that for close to 30 years as well.

Every time Naoe is in the neighborhood, we get out to try to do something. At 65 years old, he’s a machine – and on this trip proved it even more. Straight from sea level in Japan and directly off the plane – we headed to the S. Ridge of Superior for a fun, after work, 2400ft gain hike/scramble/solo to over 10,000ft.

From Kolin & Ellen's website 2012

Trad climber
Feb 17, 2016 - 07:17pm PT
TFPU. Really beautiful
Messages 1 - 12 of total 12 in this topic
Return to Forum List
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta