He looks relievedÂ…... was he in peril?

The Japanese mountaineer was forced to abandon his attempt to conquer Mount Everest just a few thousand feet from the summit. Nobukazu Kuriki had followed the same route used by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay.

Was it his first go?

Not at all. This was the 33-year-old's fifth solo attempt to reach the summit in the past six years. He explained: "I tried hard taking all my energy, but it took too much time to move in deep, deep snow. I realised if I kept going, I wouldn't be able to come back alive."

How has it gone in the past?

On five previous occasions he has had to call off his climb with the summit in sight. Since 2012, even the most basic of climbing manoeuvres have become a challenge after he lost all his fingers and one thumb to frostbite.

It couldn't get any harderÂ…...

It could. In spite of the obvious risks, he prefers to scale mountains alone during the dangerous winter months and with minimal equipment. "This is the purest form of climbing and it is worth the extra danger," he said.

He must have no fear, then?

Not quite. As the first person to attempt to climb Everest since an earthquake in April killed 9,000 people, including 18 climbers, Kuriki conceded the butterflies had got to him.

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