Wednesday, August 29, 2007

100 mountains update

Just got around to updating my 100 mountains blog with 3 new peaks finished. Read the reports at

keep on climbin!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Adventures with Hiroshisan

Met up with a mad old fella in his 60's who has climbed mountains all over the world including several peaks Nepal, Africa and lots more. Anyway he was keen to take me Sawa climbing but I had no idea what he was talking about. Turns out that this is waterfall climbing. Anyway after catching up for a chat at his local gym he tells me he's keen to go rollerblading and rockcimbing at the man made wall at Azuma sports park where I often climb. So next morning at 7am!! we head off for a skate for a few hours.

Hiroshisan getting decked out ready for a hard core skating sesh.

After skating and working up a crazy sweat in the muggy heat we headed over to the climbing wall for some more fun. There had been a climbing comp on recently at the wall so all the old routes had been removed and replaced with difficult routes for the comp. I started off with a lead climb on the "easier wall" but even the easy wall was a mission and a half today. Managed to make it to the top, but not without a nice 3m fall along the way. Luckely Hirosan knows what he's doing and was able to belay me very well.

Anyway on to the waterfall climbing. So the next day we were off at 7am again to this amazing river about 1hr drive from my place. Never seen anything like it in Japan before. The water was crystal clear and all totally natural untouched by city council trying to make it more accessible to the masses. Luckely I was able to borrow some river/waterfall climbing boots from my old mate who is the owner of the local hard core out door shop. The boots have felt on the sole's of the boots for grip on wet rock.

So on we went hiking up the river climbing a waterfall every few hundred meters for a few hours until we arrived at this huge waterfall. Must have been around 100 meters high and a great place to stop for lunch. By this time I was pretty nacked and figured we would be heading back from here. But nooooo this dude has more energy of a 20 year old marathon runner on steroids. He decided to start climbing up the huge waterfall for a while before heading back down and telling me it might be too dangerous without ropes, DUHH! But he insisted that I go up as far as he did for some photos at least. So after some hesitation I made my way up.

The force of the freezing cold water pounding down was like nothing I've ever felt. Not just that but I couldn't see a thing, let a lone climb up steep slippery rock without a rope. So I climbed up as far as I could pretty much blind most of the way before descending back to safety.

Surly we were heading back now I thought, we've been gone for hours. No! he wanted to get up to the top he said. So he led me up a steep path through the bush that he had made himself a few weeks earlier. The climbing was insane, grabbing at any tree roots I could grab at and ducking under thick bush for long climb. Most of it was really slippery and dangerous, some parts really exposed where one slip and you would be back where we started 100 or so meters below.

The view of the falls and the surrounding valley was pretty sweet at the top, but still we pushed on. Up more and more waterfalls. Some were getting pretty hairy with next to nothing to grab for protection. After convincing him that surly this was far enough and that we still had a long way to get back he decided to break for another lunch before the return trip.

Heading back was just as hard, if not harder than the climb as some parts took everything we had just to get up them and would be impossible to down climb. Luckily Hiroshisan brought a thin 7mm rope, so we made harnesses from climbing tape and a carabina and repelled of some of the worst anchors I've every used. Crappy little tree branches that were almost snapping with our weight. I wish I took a photo of some of them now but I was too concerned about not dieing at the time that photos didn't come to mind.

Anyway after a few hours hiking and repelling back to the start point we dried off and set off for home. Amazing place! Amazing fun!! cant wait to get back there again!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ryusen cave

Heres a couple of pix from our trip up north to Ryusen cave. This is the 3rd cave I've visited in Japan. It's Japan's deepest water cave (150m deep) and has the clearest water in the world.
this section was only about 35m deep but super nice.

The cave is in north japan, just below Hokkaido island. its thought to be about 5km long as it hasn't fully been explored yet. visitors though only walk about 200m through the cave. the water is totally drinkable and for sale everywhere around the area. walking through the cave is like being in a big refrigerator, but a nice change from the hot muggy weather outside. being the Obon holidays it was packed, so it was hard to set up my tripod to get the shots i wanted. after here we made the long drive home which took about 8 hours, most of the way in shitty traffic jams.

i knew i would need to lug my heavy tripod with me on this trip.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mountain climbing update

Just got back from a long drive up north camping and climbing a couple more hyakumeizan peaks. Also stopped of at Ryusen cave. It is Japan's deepest water cave at 150m deep and the worlds clearest water. Visiblility is something like 45m. I will post some pix shortly. For the time being besure to check my Japan's 100 famous mountain blog at for the latest climbing news. pix coming soon!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Failed attempt at Zao mountain

Went for another trip to Zao mountain again yesterday but the weather turned horrendous, more on that in a sec. Its summer now so that means festival's and firewoks time of the year again. One of my companies I teach, NOK, had their summer festival the other day so we tagged along for the free beer, food and entertainment. Also the chance to win some sweet prizes including a 32inch SONY LCD tv. Unfortunately it pissed down just as we got there so we stayed indoors for a while until it died down. They had a mini petting zoo there also with donkey's, lama and rabbits but Jet didn't seem too interested. There was a pretty sweet fireworks show at nite and everyone had fun. Didn't win anything tho (>_<)> At least got to drink plenty of free beer and plenty of festival food.

So yesterday we deicided to head up to Miagi prefecture to Zao mountain, a famous place for skiing in winter and one of the Hyakumeizan mountains

(see my other site for more info)

Anyway just as we got half way up the mountain near the starting point for the short hike to the summit the weather went insaine!

The wind was blowing the clouds across the road faster than I've seen before and visibility was down to about 10m at times. Most cars on their way up decided to turn around and head back down and we did to as there wouldn't have been anything to see in this weather anyway.

So we deiced to head back down and go to a Hot spring called Gaga onsen. It was over priced and too small. They charged 1000yen for 2 smallish hot springs. I spent the whole time in the outdoor one until and large bee came along and kept following me around until I got out and ran into the indoor hall way in just a tiny hand towel wrapped around my waist to hide the privates. Anyway after we got back into Fukushima a few hours later we headed into town for the Waraji Matsuri (Sandal festival) a traditional festival held each year where a bunch of men carry a huge sandal made of straw from the city up into the local mountain Shinobuyama. It was good fun. I had a few beers and caught up with a bunch of mates. Will upload a vid or two a bit later on.