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Pakistan rescuers find missing Japanese climber’s body, search for another

The south ridge of Spantik in the Karakoram mountain range, Pakistan.
The south ridge of Spantik in the Karakoram mountain range, Pakistan.

Rescuers in northern Pakistan have retrieved the body of one of the two Japanese climbers who had gone missing earlier in the week while attempting to scale a 7,027-meter (23,054-foot) mountain.

Waliullah Falahi, a senior area administrator, confirmed to VOA Saturday that Pakistani army helicopters are assisting “high-altitude porters” in the search for the second Japanese national. He identified the deceased climber as Ryuseki Hiraoka.

Expedition organizers said Hiraoka and his partner, Atsushi Taguchi, were trying to summit Spantik mountain, also known as the Golden Peak, in the Karakoram range without the help of porters before they disappeared Wednesday.

Hiraoka and Taguchi are reported to be experienced climbers. Hiraoka is a well-known Japanese mountain guide who has summited Mount Everest five times and climbed several other 8,000-meter mountains and many peaks in the Andes and the Pamirs.

The men were last seen Monday, and the alarm was raised by fellow climbers who had expected to cross paths with them the following day.

A military helicopter spotted the climbers Thursday, but the search was suspended due to poor weather conditions. Japanese climbers from another expedition were also reportedly assisting in the rescue efforts.

Pakistan’s northern Gilgit-Baltistan region is home to five of the world's 14 peaks above 8,000 meters, including K2, the world’s second-highest mountain, at 8,611 meters (28,251 feet) above sea level.

Eight others are in Nepal, including Mount Everest, the world’s highest, and one is along the Nepalese border with the Tibetan region of China.

Thousands of foreigners travel to Gilgit-Baltistan during the summer climbing season, from early June to late August.