For a fifth time in six years, Japanese climber Nobukazu Kuriki is turning back from his summit bid on Mount Everest—this time hindered by heavy autumn snows and the profound challenge of making the bid with only his right thumb. Kuriki, 33, lost nine fingers to frostbite on the mountain in 2012, when he barely survived two days in a snow hole at 27,000 feet in below-zero temps, reports the BBC. And with the mountain claiming one in 10 climbers who try to summit, Kuriki decided not to push his luck. This time it was the conditions that prompted him to turn back after spending a month acclimatizing, reports CNN. "I realized if I kept going, I wouldn't be able to come back alive," Kuriki wrote on Facebook.
Kuriki was at the final stretch, having rested at the last camp on the route that Everest's first climbers, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, took in 1953, but "it took too much time to move in deep deep snow," he wrote. Kuriki was not only climbing without oxygen, but also without partners—he prefers to climb solo—and at a difficult, more volatile time of year. Climbers typically make their attempts in May, but Nepal closed the mountain for the spring climbing season after the April earthquake killed 19 people at base camp. Kuriki was the first to make an attempt since. (The earthquake actually moved Everest's peak.)