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Thursday, June 14, 2012

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Pinnacle performance: Hirotaka Takeuchi (left) receives an award from Zimba Zangbu Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, in Katmandu on Sunday. AP

Japanese conquers 14 tallest peaks


KATMANDU — A mountaineer who was nearly killed by an avalanche in 2007 finished a climb in Nepal last month that made him the first Japanese to scale the world's 14 tallest mountains.

"I have always wanted to climb mountains as long as I remember," Hirotaka Takeuchi said this week in Katmandu. "It was always my childhood dream to scale high peaks."

The Nepal Mountaineering Association said Takeuchi scaled the 8,167-meter-high Mount Dhaulagiri on May 26 to finish his 17-year mission.

All of the top 14 peaks — including Everest, K2 and Kanchenjunga — are in the Himalayan or Karakoram ranges of Asia. Takeuchi is the 30th person to climb all 14 and the first from Japan, association official Deebash Bikram Shah said.

Takeuchi plans to return to the Himalayas to climb another peak next year. "I will continue to climb as long as my body will allow me," he said.

Takeuchi's mission almost ended in 2007 when an avalanche on Mount Gashabrum swept him some 300 meters and buried him completely in snow. Two German climbers were killed in the avalanche.

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