- 京都大学ヒマラヤ研究会; 京都大学ブータン友好プログラム; 京都大学霊長類学・ワイルドライフサイエンス・リーディング大学院
- ヒマラヤ学誌 : Himalayan Study Monographs (ISSN:09148620)
- vol.15, pp.13-22, 2014-03-28
Within the space of just 16 months, May 1973 to September 1974, members of the Kyoto University Mountaineering club both accomplished two first ascents and underwent four tragedies in Himalaya and in Japan. The aim of this paper is threefold. First, to set down the events of that period as accurately as possible. Second, to reflect on why the expeditions were launched and the accidents happened, within the broader historical context of the 60 year-span between the mid 60's and 2013. Third, to look to the future, taking account of lessons learned from the 1973-74 tragedies. As a 22 year-old undergraduate, in February 1973, I joined the expedition to Kangchenjunga to climb the West peak named Yalungkang (8505m) in Nepal. At that time, it was the highest virgin peak in the world. Two team members succeeded in reaching the summit, but one did not make it back down. After the expedition, the two youngest members, Shinichi Takagi and I, travelled to Pakistan to identify the next target peak in the Karakorum Himalaya. On returning to Japan in August, we learned that a young member of our club had fallen to his death in the Japanese Alps. This was followed by further fatalities caused by an avalanche on Mt. Yari, also in the Japanese Alps, in late November. This single incident resulted in the loss of five of our members. In spite of this, at the critical moment, we were either unwilling or unable to stop the next Himalayan expedition to K12 (7428 m) in Karakorum in 1974. Takagi and his partner accomplished the first ascent of K12, but failed to return to base camp. In sum, we carried out two first ascents and experienced four accidents, losing nine dear friends within 1 year and 4 months. After a long hiatus, we recommenced climbing mountains with a completely different mind-set. Our aim shifted from the traditional focus of achieving first ascents to the new goal of academic niche construction in the Himalayas. The current journal title "Himalayan Study Monograph"(ISSN 0914-8620) was founded on 10th March 1990. Together, Kozo Matsubayashi and me started this journal. We were also jointly responsible for founding the Association of the Study of Himalaya (ASH). Members of ASH have organized Himalayan expeditions, called KUMREH, since 1989; resulting in the creation of entirely new academic disciplines such as 'Field Medicine', and in the production of a young disciplines such as Wildlife Science. Next year, 2014, is the 25th anniversary of this new initiative in the Himalayas. The 15 volumes of this journal are representative of our collective effort. This paper explains both the rationale behind ASH and the reason for its creation; the 1973-74 tragedies having prompted a paradigm shift of mountaineering in Himalaya in terms of aim and focus.