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Legends of the Hornbein Couloir
12:14 p.m. EDT Aug 7, 2003
The American snowboard expedition is acclimatizing on lower peaks around Everest, in preparation for their bold attempt on the steep Hornbein couloir. They go it no 02, no fixed ropes and no sherpas. Low season, during the monsoon - they are challenged but also lucky enough to experience a silent Everest whose slopes they will have all to themselves. Their mission is daring and the chances of summit slim, but the adventure will be unforgettable.

In the meantime, on the other side of Himalaya in the Karakorum, a Hornbein couloir legend hurdles in base camp of Gasherbrum II guiding a team from Adventure Consultants - the commercial expedition operation once founded by another Himalayan legend; Rob Hall.

The Hornbein legend is Takashi Ozaki, and May 10 1980 he made the first full ascent of the very North Face that now casts its shadow on the snowboard climbers. Starting from the Rongbuk glacier, Takashi and his friend took a direct line up a gully leading right into the Hornbein couloir. That gully is now known as the Japanese couloir.

This year, Takashi actually ties together the entire summer season as climbers hang out on Everest Hornbein and K2 BC. Takashi knows well what they all are facing, for he has been to K2 as well.

But how did it come to that a Japanese butterfly collector found himself at a vertical to overhanging blue ice impasse 400m from the summit of K2, soloing on virgin ground, without a rope, 1000m above a tenuously pitched camp and with an overall exposure of 3500m? And later married a beautiful French Embassy employee and found himself climbing Dhaulagiri in the winter, with his wife and 3 week old baby near to Base Camp in Jomsom?

Read Mike Roberts profile on his guide friend straight from Gasherbrum's Base Camp.

Image of Takashi Ozaki courtesy of Adventure Consultants

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