Proper Japanese Title: 孤高の人
Originally serialized in Weekly Young Jump, Kokou no Hito is a manga adaption of the Japanese novel of the same name (written by Jiro Nitta and first published in 1969). Both versions are about the real-life Japanese mountain climber Buntarō Katō (1905-1936). However, the main difference in the manga version is that it takes place in a contemporary Japan (over seventy years after the real-life events) so technologies and the surrounding world are significantly updated and change the tone of the series.
The adaption was originally written by Yoshiro Nabeda and drawn by Shinichi Sakamoto, but after forty chapters the writer left and Sakamoto did the full adaption himself. Though the series already takes a major tonal shift within its early volumes after the first time-skip when things become much more bleak; after losing Nabeda, the series also experienced a major stylistic shift.
With Sakamoto as the writer and artist, the series moved into dropping standard linear story-telling for metaphorical and nonlinear artistic scenes and chapters can have no speech at all with characters experiencing paranoid hallucinations or events being revealed slowly through silent flashbacks after another time-skip occurs. The series also represented a change in the style of Shinichi Sakamoto, which was reflected in his following work, Innocent.
The series begins by focusing on the extremely introverted and awkward Buntarō Mori as he moves to a new high school and there, he learns about mountain climbing and it becomes a new passion that allows him to enjoy life. However, due to his detachment and recklessness, his early climbing antics border on suicidal and ultimately result in a major tragedy that results in the first major time-skip of the series and the progress he goes through to gain a few friends is almost completely undone.
Then as an adult, he goes through several major events that always seem to lead to a new hope before ending in catastrophic fashion and resetting the clock again. No secondary characters stick around through the entire series and Buntarō has trouble keeping relationships with anyone. Eventually, he manages to turn his life around when he finds love in Hana Katō (after a lot of struggles with women, in this adaption it is through taking on her name that he becomes Buntarō Katō) and has a daughter.
He is broken out of this ideal life by one of his climbing disciples (Ayumu Takemura) and forcibly encouraged to go on the final mountain climb that he had been working toward throughout the series, even though it could easily cost his life (the real-life man and the novel adaption both died) and this results in the final major arc of the series.