(K2climb.net) Just over 5 feet tall, the quiet girl resembled a tender Geisha as she reported on her very first 8000er - K2 - bagged at the age of 23!
Japanese Yuka Komatsu reached the top via the Cesen route on August 1 and here goes at last some close up shots of the petite champ climber and her even younger climbing buddy. The pics are from the duo's debrief last week at the Alpine Club of Pakistan.
The Tokai University expedition returned to Japan on August 25 and Yuka Komatsu is soon back to selling climbing gear at ICI Ishii Sports, a huge sports chain in Japan. K2 might be my first and last 8000er, she said after summiting. It is too expensive. <cutoff>
<b>Working three shifts to get there</b>
The K2 summit was a sweet revenge for Yuka after her 2005 Everest experience. Back then, Yuka was climbing Everest as a member of the north side Japan-China Friendship Expedition. But by the time she reached BC the summit team had already been selected. Yuka was not in it and prevented to climb above ABC. "I will never forget how it felt. But the memory also gave me the power I needed to climb K2," she said.
As for K2, Yuka said she was lured not by altitude but by the sheer scale of Himalayan peaks and the prospect of an awesome climb via a beautiful route. Himalayan climbing is not cheap and Yuka worked three jobs to save up, "it was very difficult for me," she said.
<b> Land of Gods overlook</b>
Yukas team was the only expedition to climb from the SSE spur and she gave her all to fix ropes and high camps, in order to be allowed a place on the summit team. Her hard work finally paid off: On July 28 she set off from BC together with Tatsuya Aoki (21) and Shodo Kuramoto (27). Kuramoto had to turn back due to health problems only hours later and was evacuated from BC suffering from appendicitis according to reports. Yuka and Tatsuya continued up.
The climbers used O2 from C3. According to the expeditions dispatches, the summiteers ran out of gas shortly after summiting very late in the day. 3-4 hours before sunrise and after their headlamps ran out of batteries, the couple halted the climb until daybreak. They bivouacked at the lower section of the bottleneck; after traversing the section where an avalanche killed four of Russia's strongest climbers only 2 weeks later.
It would be two more days before they reached BC, exhausted but otherwise healthy. Yuka said that she didn't feel cold at all in the bivouac, in fact; "Mt. Fuji felt a lot colder in winter!"
Ace climber and Yuka's work buddy Hirotaka Taekuchi who in 1996 also summited K2 from the Cesen route at the age of 25, commented her climb to ExWeb: There is no doubt that peaks over 8500m are a different kind of mountains. We have to push ourselves to get to the summit.
About the view from K2's very top, Yuka said "it was like watching the territory of Gods."
<i>Yuka Komatsu was born on September 22, 1982 in Akita, Japan and graduated at Tokai University in March, 2005. She has done ice climbing in Korea and Banff (Canada). In 2004, without any Himalayan experience, she led a team in the Karakonglong Mountains, Pamir Range (central Asia) achieving a first ascent on a 6300m virgin peak.
Yuka summited K2, her first 8000er, together with Tatsuya Aoki (21) on August 1, 2006, after climbing from the SSE Spur route. She used supplementary O2 on her summit day. Yukas companion on the summit, Tatsuya Aoki 21, has become the youngest K2 summiteer ever.
Acknowledgments: ExplorersWeb wants to thank Japanese climber and Yuka's work mate Yusuke Hirai for providing ExWeb with key factual info on the Japanese team and translating the expedition's dispatches.
Yuka's work colleagues include ace climber Hirotaka Taekuchi - Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and Ralf Dujmovits regular climbing mate. Hiro summited K2 from the Cesen route in 1996 at the age of 25, only 2 years older than Yuka. Hiro did K2 right after reaching the top of Everest and has summited another 6, 8000ers since.</i>
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