Team locates body of adventurer on 6-year trek

Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2001

TOKYO - A search team has found the body of a Japanese adventurer missing in the Arctic since last week, his support team reported.

Hyoichi Kohno had set out on what was intended to be an epic six-year journey from the North Pole to Japan via Canada, Alaska and Russia's Sakhalin Island.

The six-member volunteer team in Resolute in Canada's Northwest Territories discovered the frozen body of Hyoichi Kohno near his sled Wednesday, said Toji Goto, director of Kohno's Japan-based expedition office.

The team had chartered an aircraft to search for Kohno after the Canadian air force called off its search, Goto said from Kohno's hometown of Matsuyama, about 420 miles southwest of Tokyo.

Hopes of finding Kohno alive faded earlier this week. He hadn't checked in with the support group in Matsuyama since last week.

"We still don't have any details on what went wrong. All we know is that his body was found near his sled," Goto said.

Kohno, 43, had been out of contact since he last turned on his global positioning system satellite location finder May 17, according to the support group. He missed a scheduled radio contact on Saturday.

Kohno, who in 1997 became the first Japanese adventurer to reach the North Pole on foot and by himself, had planned a 9,300-mile journey this time.

The route called for starting at the North Pole and traveling by kayak, sled, skis and on foot across Canada, Alaska and Russia's Sakhalin Island to return to Japan. Kohno left the North Pole on March 27. He was hoping to reach Japan in 2007.

One ski, a pole and a sled were spotted earlier this week by both the support group and Canadian authorities near Ward Hunt Island, where Kohno last contacted his supporters.

Two staff members from the Japan-based group will travel to Resolute to bring Kohno's body home, Goto said.

Kohno's trip had been halted for two weeks earlier to repair a radio malfunctioning due to cold temperatures.

Kohno had years of experience as an adventurer. At 19, he quit his job at a gas company in western Japan and began traveling.

He was only 25 when he walked 3,720 miles from Los Angeles to New York.

While still in his twenties, Kohno climbed to the summits of 22,835-foot Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak in South America, and Alaska's 20,320-foot Mount McKinley.

In 1991, Kohno trekked alone for 3,100 miles across the Sahara Desert, the world's biggest, pulling a cart loaded with equipment.

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