KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A Japanese mountaineer who was nearly killed by an avalanche in 2007 finished a climb in Nepal last month that made him his country's first person to scale the world's 14 tallest mountains.
"I have always wanted to climb mountains as long as I remember," Hirotaka Takeuchi said Monday in Katmandu. "It was always my childhood dream to scale high peaks."
The Nepal Mountaineering Association said Takeuchi scaled the 8,167-meter-high (26,788-foot-high) Mount Dhaulagiri on May 26 to finish his 17-year mission.
All 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 climber 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 (1,000 feet) and buried him completely in snow. Two German climbers were killed in the avalanche, and a third was injured badly. Takeuchi was dug out by other mountaineers and rescued by helicopter.