Japanese Explorer Uemura meets his demise at Mt. McKinley in 1984

Many of you will recognize the name of Japanese explorer Noami Uemera as being the first person to arrive at the North Pole by dogsled on April 29, 1978. Uemera had scored quite a few expeditions and records under his belt in the years leading up to his untimely demise in 1984 after scoring a victory over Mt. McKinley. The Kansas City (Missouri) Times reported on Tuesday, February 21, 1984, with excerpts as follows:

TALKEETNA, Alaska (AP) Pilots took advantage of a clear sky Monday to look for overdue Japanese adventurer Naomi (sic) Uemera--the first person to climb to the top of Mt. McKinley alone, in winter. At least three planes and a helicopter buzzed the icy flanks of North America's tallest peak, and by late in the day searchers had located Mr. Uemura's snowshoes in a basin at the 14,000-foot level where he had left them on his way up. He was supposed to have retrieved the snowshoes on his descent. (.....) Pilots managed to reach Mr. Uemura's base camp Sunday at the 7,200 foot level. There was no sign of him, and they said they believed he had not descended from the 16,000 foot level where he was spotted by pilots last Thursday. Mr. Uemura had been expected back in his base camp last Wednesday, and it was believed that high winds may have pinned him on the mountain's upper reaches. Pilot Doug Geeting last saw Mr. Uemura on Thursday waving from outside an ice cave that he was all right.

A Related Flight Cover

Documented flight cover from Doug Geeting Air for flight to Kalhitna glacier in Alaska.

Flight cover from 27 January 1984, documented by Doug Geeting, the last person to see Uemura alive. Flown in C-185, N1047F.  Geeting operated Talkeetna Air Taxi Service. I think this cover may actually have been a pre-mission support flight on behalf of Uemura, but was unable to verify that. Geeting did not post this cover until early March; suspect he was preoccupied with the air searches.

Uemura was never found, and his remains are presumably committed to the spirit of mighty Mt. McKinley. His death was, and remains, a grim reminder of the hazards faced by polar explorers.

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