The Giri-Giri Boys are an informal group of Japanese alpine climbers who have been ticking off some of the biggest peaks and baddest routes around the world in recent years. Perhaps their most famous feat was the first ascent of the southeast face of Mt. Logan by Katsutaka “Jumbo” Yokoyama and Yasushi Okada in May 2010. This accomplishment won them the Piolet d’Or in 2011. Other significant achievments by the Giri-Giri Boys include first ascents on the north faces of Kalanka and Tawoche, a second ascent of Daddomain, and a first time enchainment of the Isis Face and the Slovak Direct on Denali.
Yusuke Sato, a member of the Giri-Giri Boys, describes the group as follows:
I’d describe the Giri Giri boys as a team of the craziest Japanese climbers. Giri Giri means ‘at the edge’. That’s our philosophy really, to climb at the edge. At the edge of our ability, at the edge of what has been done before. We also live at the edge financially. We all work full time and plough all our money back in to climbing, we’re not rich men. So our life is literally at the edge.
Jack Geldard, UKClimbing.com
It was the biggest unclimbed wall in North America: the southeast face of Mount Logan, an 8,500-foot headwall of rock, snow, and ice that had eluded alpinists for more than a decade. Outside Online
On May 7, 2010, Japanese climbers Katsutaka “Jumbo” Yokoyama and Yasushi Okada completed the first ascent of the giant southeast face of Mt. Logan, in four days. Located in the St. Elias Mountains of the Yukon Territory, Mt. Logan (19,357′) is one of the most massive peaks in the world. It is the highest peak in Canada and is second only to Denali for highest in North America. Alpinist.com
Jumbo Yokoyama, on finally reaching the summit:
Our joy was beyond words. A single thread seemed to connect all those who confronted Logan before—and all those who helped us. To honor them, we named the route I-To, which means ‘line-thread relationship.’
In the spring of 2008, the Giri-Giri Boys completed a significant first on the slopes of Denali, North America’s highest peak. From May 11-May 18, Katsutaka Yokoyama, Yusuke Sato and Fumitaka Ichimura, all Giri-Giri Boys, linked up two of Denali’s more difficult routes, the Isis Face and the Slovak Direct, in a continuous, eight-day push.
The enchainment, which marked the third ascent of the Isis Face and the fourth of the Slovak Direct, linked more than 16,000 vertical feet of difficult terrain over eight days—an enchainment so impressive that some have called it one of the greatest feats in Alaska climbing history.
There are few peaks as prominent in the Himalaya as Tawoche (6501m), which hugs the standard trekking route through the Khumbu Himal to Everest Base Camp. And there are few unclimbed faces with such striking potential as Tawoche’s north face proper.
On November 28, 2009 Fumitaka Ichimura and Genki Narumi climbed the north face proper of Tawoche, in alpine style and winter conditions. The climb took three days, requiring two bivouacs without a tent. Noting how dangerous this mission was, Genki Narumi commented that “We are very happy we could climb this and come back safely so we can do other climbs.”
These are but a small sampling of the incredible climbs that the Giri-Giri Boys have completed in recent years. They live on the edge, and their death-defying feats are pushing what we view as possible in the mountains. Keep an eye out for them this spring and beyond, as there is no doubt that we have not seen the last of the Giri-Giri Boys.