Japanese mountaineer Kei Taniguchi died last week while climbing the Daisetsuzan range in northern Japan.

Just 43, Taniguchi was a pioneer in mountain climbing. She climbed Mount Everest in 2007 and in 2009 was the first woman to win the Piolet d’Or (Golden Ice Axe) mountaineering award. She and her climbing partner, Kazuya Hiraide, “won acclaim for technically challenging climbs in Alaska, Nepal, Tibet, Pakistan, and China.”

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According to The Guardian, Taniguchi fell to her death while resting during her descent from Mount Kurodake. She “had detached herself from the rope she and fellow climbers were using, and gone behind a boulder. The group found her gloves and traces of her having fallen. She was confirmed dead on Tuesday [December 22].”

Friend, fellow climber, and Yamakei magazine editor Hiroshi Hagiwara tells The Guardian, “It’s a great loss for our community. I had climbed with her in the past.”

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In November 2015 Taniguchi published in essay in Alpinist Magazine where she articulated the thrill of the wider world and the agency one possesses to explore it:

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“In severe, high places, I’m forced to see how small and powerless all humans are, compared to the vastness of the wild. At the same time I realize our unlimited potential: I decide whether to encounter the hardships of the mountain or not. To go up or down, right or left. No one forces me. No one leads me by the hand.”


Contact the author at rachel.vorona.cote@jezebel.com.

Image via AP.