Skip to content
Home » Photographer of the Month » Tamotsu Nakamura

Tamotsu Nakamura

[Photo] Tamotsu Nakamura

With the advent of GIS, satellite images and other advanced cartographic applications, it seems the world is growing smaller by the minute. But long-time Alpinist contributor Tamotsu Nakamura—though he began his explorations after the Golden Age of Mountaineering ended—begs to differ.

“Some convince themselves that veiled mountains in the greater ranges are an experience of the past,” Nakamura says. “But Tibet has an incredibly vast and complex topography that holds countless unclimbed summits, and beckons a lifetime’s search. The peaks there are stunning and magnificent, and many of them will remain enigmas for generations.”

Tamotsu Nakamura was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1934. During his years at Hitotsubashi University he studied commerce and accounting, and with the university’s mountaineering club he began climbing in the Japanese Alps.

In 1961 he took an expedition to Bolivia and Peru, where he made the first ascent of Pucahirca Norte (6046m) in the Cordillera Blanca. He then climbed three more first ascents and several second ascents in Cordillera Apolobamba and Pupuya in Bolivia.

After living and working around the world in Pakistan, Mexico, New Zealand and Hong Kong, Nakamura began seriously devoting his life to the mountains of Tibet and western China. Over the past eighteen years he has made thirty expeditions to those areas, where he has discovered, documented and mapped countless unclimbed peaks.

These forays have garnered numerous awards from internationally recognized societies. Nakamura has been given the Prince Chichibu Memorial Mountaineering Award (2003), the UIAA Award for contributions to international mountaineering (2007) and, most recently, the Royal Geographical Society’s Busk Medal (2008).

Nakamura’s photographs and writings have been published widely in such journals and magazines as The American Alpine Journal, The Alpine Journal, The Himalayan Journal, Japanese Alpine News, Altitudes, Vertical and Alpinist. His images have appeared in Issues 4, 17 and 20 of Alpinist and have been profiled on (check out the February 2007 High Camp and the April 10 and December 5, 2007 NewsWires to see more of Nakamura’s work).

Want more unclimbed peaks? Throughout May 2008, nine of Nakamura’s most striking photographs of unclimbed peaks from eastern Tibet will be released for high-res download in Alpinist Wallpaper.

Last month, April 2008, Tamotsu Nakamura released this book, Die Alpen Tibets: Ostlich des Himalaya, which features his expeditions to eastern Tibet. Find out more information about his book by visiting