Friday, August 15, 2014

Elite Trail Runner Tsuyoshi Soma Disappears While Climbing The Matterhorn (updated)

http://fuji-trailhead.com/archives/1779 https://www.facebook.com/fujitrailhead
http://fuji-trailhead.com/archives/1784 http://fuji-trailhead.com/archives/1788
http://fuji-trailhead.com/archives/1791 http://fuji-trailhead.com/archives/1794

translated by Brett Larner

I will continue to update this story as Fuji Trailhead posts new information to its website.

July 15
From July 16 to July 25 I'll be in Switerland.  I'm running the Eiger Ultra Trail race, 101 km with 6700 m total elevation change.  After the race I want to climb the Matterhorn, but from looking at live cameras I get the feeling for some reason that the snow conditions aren't very good, so I wonder whether I should do it.

But, I'm going to run, climb, and enjoy it with all my heart.  I can't wait to do my kind of trail running and mountain climbing for the first time in a long time.  While I'm in Switzerland it make take me a while to reply to emails.  When I get back home, let's enjoy the mountains of Japan together.

--Tsuyoshi Soma, trail runner

Soma placed 11th overall at the Eiger Ultra Trail race, running 14:15:06.7.

July 23
The sky is threatening rain.

In the mountainous areas of Europe it tends to rain for a long time.  The air is heavy with humidity and the village in this valley is beautifully lush and moist, but the presence of one particular mountain leaves me impatient.  Perhaps she'll appear tomorrow.

The Matterhorn.

--Tsuyoshi Soma, trail runner

July 26
Fuji Trailhead representative Tsuyoshi Soma suffered an accident while climbing the Matterhorn on July 23.  He fell from a ridge, slid roughly 800 m, and was buried by an avalanche or new-fallen snow.  Although some of his equipment has been found, Soma has not yet been located.  The best search and rescue operations possible in the area are being conducted, but, according to local police, given the circumstances of the accident the chance of survival is very low.

Therefore, until Soma is found safely and returns home to Japan, all scheduled Fuji Trailhead events will be cancelled.  We will make every effort to contact all entrants but it may not be possible to reach every person in time.  We are very sorry if this proves to be the case.

Additionally, because we are in active communication with local police engaged in the search in Switzerland, it is difficult for us to respond to each and every inquiry we receive about this terrible news.  We are very sorry for any distress that our inability to answer such correspondence may cause.  We sincerely appreciate all of your notes and apologize for putting our own concerns first.  As soon as new information becomes available we will update our website.

--on behalf of the Fuji Trailhead staff

July 27
With regard to Tsuyoshi Soma's accident, we would like to apologize for causing so many people distress and concern.  Additionally, we would like to say thank you for the countless messages of support and encouragement that we have received.  From the heart, we are deeply grateful.  Soma's family likewise send their gratitude and thanks to you all.

Members of Soma's family have arrived in Switzerland and are staying locally, but please rest assured that they are accompanied by two Japanese guides.  At the current time the weather in the area of Soma's accident has turned bad, and as our priority is to not have a secondary accident we have temporarily suspended the search.  Once the weather improves the search and rescue crews will be back out there.  As soon as new information becomes available we will update our website.

--on behalf of the Fuji Trailhead staff

Aug. 4
With regard to Tsuyoshi Soma's accident, we are very sorry not to be able to respond to all of the kind messages of concern that we continue to receive.  We would like to give you an update on the progress since our last website posting on July 27.  Since then, rain and snow have continued to fall in the area of the accident without sign of the weather changing, every day preventing the search operation from going forward.

In terms of what has been found in the search so far, the area of the search has been narrowed thanks to the discovery of some of Soma's equipment, but it is in an area of glaciers and within the danger zone of frequent avalanches from the Matterhorn's eastern face.  Considering the dangers of the area and the weather, no rescue team has been sent in yet.  However, the Hoernli hut, the highest encampment for climbers on the Matterhorn, is being renovated this year, so if the weather clears there will be many helicopters flying and landing there daily.  The information about the location of Soma's accident has been given to all local pilots, and during each of their renovation runs and sightseeing flights they will fly over the glacier and perform visual searches.

Additionally, a local rescue company called Air Zermatt, the world's leading helicopter rescue team, is involved in the search.  We are receiving messages from many people questioning the skill of the search teams and the circumstances of the search but can assure you that the world's best rescue team is conducting the search and rescue operation.  We realize that it is painful to think that there has been no progress but we ask for your understanding of the situation.

As soon as new information becomes available we will update our website.

Aug. 14
This is Tsuyoshi Soma's wife.   Once again, I'm very sorry for all of the tremendous worry this has caused everybody.

Several days have passed since I returned to Japan.  I wondered whether or not it would be better to wait until he was found and hesitated about it for a while, but the days of waiting just went by with nothing I could do and I thought that he would not want that for me, so that led me to come back here.

Even now that I'm back the rescue team continues to search, and having gone there and met them, talked to them and listened to them, I could feel that they were trustworthy, reliable people.  They're going to find him.  I believe it.

Thanks to the support of everyone around us, even when there are times like this we can still find ways to think about things positively and move forward in one piece.  If you happen to see me around I'll be very happy if you'll just talk to me normally.  I'm eternally grateful for all the messages I've received from so many people.  Thank you.  I felt the warmth of human nature.  Please forgive me if I'm not able to reply.

Come back, without fail.  We're all waiting for you!

Mayumi Soma

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