Topic : Flying Over Himalayas

Date: 25th March

Time: 2:00 PM

Conference Hall: B

Tamotsu Nakamura – a pioneer of Alps of Tibet:

With the advent of GIS, satellite images and other advanced cartographic applications, it seems the world is growing smaller by the minute. But long-time Alpinist contributor Tamotsu Nakamura—though he began his explorations after the Golden Age of Mountaineering ended—begs to differ.

“Some convince themselves that veiled mountains in the greater ranges are an experience of the past,” Nakamura says. “But Tibet has an incredibly vast and complex topography that holds countless unclimbed summits, and beckons a lifetime’s search. The peaks there are stunning and magnificent, and many of them will remain enigmas for generations.”

Tamotsu Nakamura was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1934. During his years at Hitotsumashi University he studied commerce and accounting, and with the university’s mountaineering club he began climbing in the Japanese Alps.

In 1961 he took an expedition to Bolivia and Peru, where he made the first ascent of Pucahirca Norte (6046m) in the Cordillera Blanca. He then climbed three more first ascents and several second ascents in Cordillera Apolobamba and Pupuya in Bolivia.

After living and working around the world in Pakistan, Mexico, New Zealand and Hong Kong, Nakamura began seriously devoting his life to the mountains of Tibet and western China. Over the past 26 years he has made 39 expeditions to those areas, where he has discovered, documented and mapped countless unclimbed peaks. These forays have garnered numerous awards from internationally recognized societies as mentioned below..

Nakamura’s photographs and writings have been published widely in such journals and magazines as The American Alpine Journal, The Alpine Journal, The Himalayan Journal, Japanese Alpine News, Altitudes, Vertical and Alpinist.

1990 –2017, 40 exploratory journeys in West China as described hereinafter:

  •  1996 –Published “East of the Himalayasヒマラヤの東” (山と渓谷Yamakei Publishers)
  • 2000 – Published “Deep Gorge Country 深い浸食の国” (山と渓谷Yamakei Publishers)
  • 2001 – Started publication of the Japanese Alpine News (The Japanese Alpine Club)
  • 2003 –Award of the Prince Chichibu Memorial Mountaineering Prize 2003 by the Japanese Alpine Club
  • Published “East of the Himalayas –To the Alps of Tibet” (English version – Japanese Alpine Club)
  • 2005– Published “The Alps of Tibet”チベットのアルプス” (山と渓谷Yamakei Publishers)
  • 2007 – UIAA Award for Contributions to International Mountaineering
  • 2008 – Published “Die Alpen Tibets– Ostrich des Himalaya” (Detjen-Verlag, Hamburg)
  •        Award of the Busk Medal 2008 of the Royal Geographical Society, UK
  • 2009 – Award of the 4th Japan Sports Grand Prix by the Japanese Government
  • 2010 – International Explorers Award – The 12th Explorers Festival-Poland
  • 2012 – Published “The Final Frontier – Alps of Tibet最後の辺境―チベットのアルプス(東京新聞社Tokyo Shimbun, newspaper company)
  • 2013 – Award of the 2nd Tadao Umesao Mountains & Explorations Literature Prize
  •    第二回梅棹忠夫 [山と探検文学賞]受賞
  • 2016 – Published “East of the Himalaya-Mountain Peak Mapsヒマラヤの東山岳地図帳”
  • Three language (English, Japanese, Chinese) version (Nakanishiya–Japanese Alpine Club)
  • 2016 – Piolets d’Or Asia Life-time Achievements Award (Korea)
  • 2016 – Started publishing the Asian Alpine E-News
  • 2017 – Life-time Award of Life-time Sports Achievements by Japanese Government
  •        生涯スポーツ功労賞 日本政府スポーツ庁
  • As in September 2017

Honorary Member of:

  • The Alpine Club: 2007 Walter Bonatti, 2008 Tamotsu Nakamura
  • The American Alpine Club
  • The Himalayan Club
  • The Japanese Alpine Club
  • The Polish Mountaineering Association
  • The New Zealand Alpine Club
  • UIAA(Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society)

 Overseas lectures and presentations on East of the Himalaya – Alps of Tibet:

American Alpine Club – 2004, 2007

Himalayan Club – 2003, 2004, 2008

Alpine Club (UK) – 2005 two times, 2009

Travellers Club (London) – 2009

Doug Scott’s arrangement (Lake District) – 2009

Cambridge University – 2009

Club Alpino Italiano, Lecco and Torino– 2010

Trento Film Festival, Italy – 2010

The 12th Explorers Festival, Poland two times – 2010

Mountain club, Barcelona, Spain – 2010

Ireland Mountaineering Council – 2009

Danish Alpine Club – 2005

Korean Mountaineering Federation – 2007

New Zealand Alpine Club – 2011

UIAA Annual General Meeting held at Kathmandu – 2011

Bansko Film Festival, Bulgaria two times – 2011

Prague International Alpinism Conference and Festival, Czech – 2011

International Mountain Medicine Congress, Taipei-Taiwan two times -2012

Prague International Alpinism Festival, Czech – 2013 & 2015

Sichuan University 2015, 2017 (twice)

Royal Geographical Society-Hong Kong 2016

Nepal Mountaineering Association, Kathmandu 2016


Footsteps of Tom Nakamura:

Today the map has no more secrets”. Idle minds repeat that parrot phrase. But who knows all Tibet, or its far-away frontiers on western China? Even its own prayer-muttering tribes know only their own bleak, wind-swept valleys – Joseph F. Rock (Seeking the Mountains of Mystery, The National Geographic Magazine Vol. LVII, No. 2 February 1930).

This Rock’s word has a significant meaning even today. Many mountaineers say that “blank on the map and veiled mountains” would no longer exist in the greater ranges. But Tamotsu (Tom) Nakamura focused his target to a multitude of independent mountain ranges that spread from East Tibet to the western rim of Sichuan basin, where incredibly complex topography holds countless unclimbed summits and hidden valleys. They are really stunning, magnificent and alluring. Many of them will remain an enigma. Footsteps of Frank Kingdon-Ward and F. M. Bailey inspired Nakamura to the least known regions. It has been a lonely challenge.

Nakamura is the only modern explorer who has traveled most widely through the remotest and least known borderlands of East Tibet and Hengduan Mountains that he calls “East of the Himalaya – The Alps of Tibet.”

To quest for these unfrequented peaks and mysterious gorge country of the great five rivers in Asia: Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Irrawaddy and Tsangpo-Brahmaptura, in 1990 Nakamura started his Odyssey of Discovery to the far-flung corners of West China, where unknown mountains frequently exceed 6,000m and there remains vast opportunity for explorations and adventures.

  • In the last 26 years from 1990 to 2016 he made 39 exploratory journeys to “East of the Himalayas – the Alps of Tibet”, mountains of East and SE Tibet and Hengduan Mountains of Northwest Yunnan, West Sichuan and Qinghai.  These journeys are:-
  • Visit to Jade Dragon Mountains (Yulong Xueshan) in Lijiang, Yunnan 1990
  • Trekking to Qonglan Mountains, Mt. Siguniang, Sichuan 1990
  • Through the canyon of Salween River in the remotest Yunnan 1991
  • Trekking to Dadu River and eastern side of Minya Konka, Sichuan 1991
  • Omei Shan to Leibo, country of Yi Minority of Yangtze River 1991-1992
  • Reconnaissance of Chola Shan and surrounding peaks, Shicuan 1992
  • From Meili Snow Mountains, Yunnan, to Yanjing of southeast Tibet 1993
  • Min Shan range and northwest grassland, Sichuna 1993
  • Trekking to the west and east sides of Minya Konka, Sichuan 1994
  • Entering forbidden county “Zayul” from Kangri Garpo East, SE Tibet 1995
  • Circumnavigation of pilgrimage trail round Kang Karpo, Tibet/Yunnan 1996
  • Retracing “Long March” route and snow peaks, Dadu River, Sichuan 1997
  • Reconnaissance of unclimbed rock peaks, Qonglai range, Sichuan 1998
  • Deep Gorge Country and Mekong-Salween Divide, SE Tibet 1998
  • Exploring Kangri Garpo range and Zayul district in SE Tibet 1999
  • Searching for unexplored peaks and old trade path west of Litang, Sichuan 1999
  • Reconnaissance of Yangmolong and exploring Jarjinjabo, Sichuan 2000
  • 3000km journeys from Sichuan to the source of Yellow River, Qinghai 2000
  • Exploring Nyainqentanglha East: Lhari /Yigong Tsangpo, East Tibet 2001
  • Exploring Nyainqentanglha East: Mountains north of Lake Basong, East Tibet 2001
  • Exploring Nyainqentanglha East: Access to the central part, East Tibet 2001
  • Exploring Nyainqentanglha East: Nenang and Unknown eastern part, East Tibet 2002
  • Source of Irrawaddy in the steps of F. M. Bailey, SE Tibet to Yunnan 2003
  • Exploring Nyainqentanglha East: Mountains east of Lake Basong, East Tibet 2004
  • Retracing missionaries’ trails from Mekong to Salween from Yunnan 2004
  • Exploring Nyainqentanglha East: Forbidden Yi’gong Tsangpo, East Tibet 2005
  • Exploring East Tibet 2006
  1. Nyainqentanglha East
  2. Karngri Garpo
  • Exploring Deep Gorge Country along Yu Qu of upper Salween River, SE Tibet 2007


  • Deep Gorge Country-Quest for veiled Dungri Garpo, SE Tibet 2008
  • South of Minya Konka and north Daxue Shan, Sichuan 2008

5000km journeys in East Tibet exploring:

  • Nyainaqentanglha East: Yi’ong Tsanpo and Botoi Tsangpo
  • Kangri Garpo East and West, East Tibet 2009
  • Upper Salween River (Nujiang) and Litang Plateau (Sichuan) to find veiled peaks 2010
  • Exploring the lower Yi’ong Tsanpo and Jiangpu Glacier, East Tibet 2011
  • Peaks identification in West Sichuan Highlands and retracing footsteps of the 19th century French Mekong River Expeditions 2012
  • 4500km journey through eastern Tibet: Sichuan-Qinghai June 2013
  • Exploring south Tibet to Tarlha Ri massif Oct 2013
  • Exploring south Tibet-south of Yarlung Tsangpo to McMahon Line 2014
  • Exploring northwest Yunnan-Balagezong in Shangri-La May 2016
  • Exploring forbidden south Tibet-Bononumg massif November 2016
  • Exploring southernmost rim of Daxue Shan, Sichuan, June 2017

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