Chasing Ghosts: Unlocking the Mysteries of Human Hibernation
A multiyear search attempts to explain one of the most extreme, and baffling, cases of human survival.
July 5 2022 at 5:00 a.m. PT
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Mount Rokkō towers over the Japanese city of Kobe, a landscape of rolling hills complete with hiking trails and an unparalleled view of Osaka Bay. Every year, the 3,000-foot-high peak becomes awash with the red, yellow and orange leaves of fall, making it a popular destination for barbecues and youthful revelry.
In October 2006, Rokkō provided the perfect place for Mitsutaka Uchikoshi, a 35-year-old civil servant, to go picnicking with a group of friends. After a day spent sharing food and stories near the peak, Uchikoshi’s friends decided to take the cable car back to Rokkō’s base and head home. Uchikoshi chose to hike down one of the mountain paths alone.
Then he disappeared.
On his way down, Uchikoshi lost his footing, causing him to slip, knock his head and break his pelvis. Unable to move or call for help, he lay wounded on the side of the mountain. At night the autumn cold, dropping as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit, crept into his bones. He passed out.
After 24 days, he was found by a passing climber and transferred to Kobe City Medical Center General Hospital. He was extremely hypothermic and cold to the touch. Many of his organs were failing. According to news reports at the time, Uchikoshi’s doctors reasoned he had fallen into a state “similar to hibernation,” just like a groundhog might.
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Uchikoshi’s hibernation had become a holy grail, but it seemed like he’d become a ghost. Chasing that ghost first led me to zombies.
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Fascinating article about what might be possible.