Mountaineering & Expeditions

They Went Up The Matterhorn In 1970 And Were Never Seen Again…Until Now

Tragic story of Japanese mountaineers finally comes to a close.

Photo: Jack Clayton.

On the 18th of August, 1970, two Japanese mountaineers got caught up in a snowstorm while ascending the north face of the Matterhorn. For almost forty-five years, they were missing presumed dead.

In September of last year, a mountaineer stumbled upon human remains at the bottom of the glacier. Family members of the two suspected climbers, Tokyo’s Masayuki Kobayashi and Chiba’s Michio Oikawa, provided a DNA sample to compare against the remains.

Photo: Jack Clayton.

Results have since confirmed that the climbers, who were 21 and 22 at the time of their disappearance, have officially been discovered. While the final chapter of their story is undoubtedly tinged with sadness, it must come as a relief to the climbers’ families who are able to finally put this long-standing mystery to bed.

Since the first ascent in 1865, 500 people have lost their lives on the Matterhorn. The remains of Lord Francis Douglas, who fell on the descent in 1865, have yet to be discovered. On average, 12 people die up the mountain every year. Many of these victims are buried in the local village of Zermatt.

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