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Japanese alpinist Kei Taniguchi
Photo by Anna Piounova, www.mountain.ru
The winners of the Piolets d'Or 2009
Photo by Anna Piounova, www.mountain.ru
Kamet, SE Face: Samurai Direct, established in pure alpine style by Japanese alpinists Kei Taniguchi amd Kazuya Hiraide (1800m, MI5+, AI5+, 26/09 - 07/10/2008)
Photo by Kei Taniguchi

Kei Taniguchi perishes on Mount Kuro in Japan


Yesterday 22 December 2015 the body of missing Japanese alpinist Kei Taniguchi was found on Mount Kuro in Japan. In 2009 she had been the first woman to win the prestigious Piolet d'Or.

The mountaineering world is in mourning at the loss of Kei Taniguchi, the first woman to receive a prestigious Piolet d’Or. Her body was discovered on Tuesday on the slopes of Mount Kuro (1984m) in the Daisetsuzan massif on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. According to The Japan Times, the 43-year old had been with a group of four alpinists, from which she had momentarily detached, before the accident occured.

The Japanese Alpine Club has described Taniguchi as "one of the world’s most skilled female climbers”. After her initial explorations and numerous successes worldwide, in 2008 she carried out an ascent that enshrined as one of the leading alpinists of her generation: together with Kazuya Hiraide she made the first ascent of the SE Face of Kamet, at 7856m the third highest mountain in India. The duo were the first to attempt this virgin 1800m and from 26 September to 7 October they forged their Samurai Direct in pure alpine style, breaching difficulties up to MI5+, AI5+. For this astounding undertaking and for their spirit of exploration the two received the Piolet d’Or 2009. Over a five-day period in 2012 this spirit prompted the two to establish a difficult new route on Namu-nani-feng (7694m) in Tibet. In 2010 Taniguchi formed part of the jury of the Piolet d’Or.

Born in Japan on 14th July 1972, Kei was drawn by a sense of adventure from an early age, admiring the explorer Naomi Uemura, the first Japanese to reach the summit of Everest, the North Pole and then the summit of Denali in Alaska (1970). After Uemura died during his second winter ascent of McKinley in March 1984, Kei decided to follow in his footsteps by going to Alaska. On reaching the summit of Denali in 2001, she decided from then on to devote her life to alpinism. It was not simply the high level of technical difficulty which attracted her, but more the exploration of undiscovered mountains all over the world.

She opened a first on Spantik in 2004, made the second alpine-style ascent of the East arête of Mustagh Ata (7564m, China) and climbed Shivling (6543m, India) in 2005. In 2006 and 2007, she was drawn towards the high altitudes of Manaslu and Everest. During the last 10 years, this self-employed personnel manager has been on expeditions all over the world. In 2009 in Chamonix she was awarded a Piolet d’Or for the first ascent in 2008 of the South-East face of Kamet (7756m, India), alpine style, with her fellow compatriot Kazuja Hiraide. In 2010, using this complicated and difficult style, she has twice renounced: on the West Face of Kunyan Chish (7400m, Pakistan) and on the East Face of Gaurishankar (7134m, Tibet). As a jury member, Kei represents the feminine side of the new generation of dedicated alpinists.





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