Last words before slipping are “This part is dangerous.”

On the morning of October 28, a young Japanese man began a live stream on Japanese video-sharing site Niconico. Titled “Going to Mt. Fuji!”, the video chronicled his climb up Japan’s most famous natural landmark.

As shown in the clip below (posted to Twitter by @ponapona979), in the late afternoon the man, a student on a gap year after failing to get into a law program, was nearing the peak, with only a handful of steps left to go. At the 10-second mark in the clip, however, he says “This part is dangerous,” as the snowy path becomes slippery. “Can’t be helped, though,” he continues, and immediately after, disaster strikes.

“Slipping,” the man tensely says as he loses his footing and begins sliding down the side of the mountain. He then apparently hits a bump and begins rolling, with the camera flipping over multiple times until the audio cuts out and the video stops on a frozen frame, with the camera seemingly damaged enough that it can no longer record or broadcast.

A Niconico user who was watching the live stream contacted the authorities, and a fire department search-and-rescue helicopter was dispatched from Yamanashi (one of the prefectures which borders Mt. Fuji at its base). However, the helicopter was unable to find the fallen hiker, and a 10-person on-foot mountain rescue team made up of Shizuoka Prefectural Police members, which set out on the morning of the 29th, is also yet to find any trace of the man.

▼ In this screen capture from the video, what appears to be a smartphone can be seen tumbling as the man slides down the mountain, suggesting that he’s no longer in possession of the device and can’t use it to try to contact help.

In a longer extract from the live stream (embedded below), a second voice can be heard, but it appears to be computer-generated. It’s unclear if it’s reading comments written by viewers so that the man can hear them as he hikes or playing some sort of pre-prepared narration he wanted for the video, but either way it appears that he’s all by himself on the mountain when he slides off, with the fact that his fall was reported by someone watching the live stream, as opposed to a fellow climber.

Yet another troubling point is that during the live stream the man could be heard saying “My fingers are cold,” which could be a sign that he wasn’t wearing adequately warm clothing for the daytime hike, let alone spending a night out in the elements. A constant snow pack has been observed at the top of Mt. Fuji since October 16, and the mountain is officially closed to climbers at the present time, and has been since the end of the designated climbing season at the end of summer.

Hopefully the man can be rescued. In the meantime the accident serves as an important reminder that despite how serene and gently sloped Mt Fuji can appear from afar, it is still Japan’s highest mountain. The elevation at the peak is 3,776 meters (12,388 feet), far above where anything close to stable conditions can be expected. Attempting to climb it alone, poorly equipped, or out of season are all bad enough ideas on their own, and definitely not the sort of risks worth staking on top of each other.

Sources: Twitter/@ponapona979 via Hachima Kiko, Twitter/@kazuenshou29 via Jin, Livedoor News/Kyodo, The Sankei News
Featured image: Twitter/@ponapona979
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