Sport: Fears for an Intrepid Explorer

A conqueror of the elements is missing

In 1966, when he was making his first solo climb of an Alpine peak, Mont Blanc in France, Naomi Uemura found himself tumbling into a crevasse that had been hidden by a layer of snow. "I thought, 'What a place to die,' " the Japanese explorer later recalled." 'So far away from home.' " But he managed to struggle out, and thereafter on big climbs, he always carried a pair of sturdy 17-ft.-long bamboo poles to test the snow.

Those bamboo poles and an abandoned pair of snowshoes...

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