Friday, December 27, 2013

Ice climbing at South creek in Yatsugatake

■ The coldest terrain in Japan

The Yatsugatake mountains are known for its extreme coldness in Winter. There, the temperature goes down -20 degree normal, often -25 degree. 

If you are in Yatsugatake and your thermometer points at -10 degree, then we would think "Oh, it's warm today! "

This was this season's second climb at South Creek in Yatsugatake Mountains (Minami sawa, otaki small fall) for us, on 21st of December.

This is the small fall, the nice place for beginners. Minamisawa Kotaki

It was so cold this day,  the 500hpa weather chart had been telling us there is  a  -33 degree low pressure air are crossing over us. 

We had been there before and the climb line was so crowded, so we left early at morning. This was perhaps our first "less than -20 degree day" in the season... everyone's breath was white, sweat drop became ice, our hair was frosty.
Compared to the last time, the ice was very hard. It took the arm power to get a good fold of ice fall, and you must hit hard the ice with the axes!  This was hard since so cold our arms did not move the way we expected. 
This is the big fall. Minami sawa Otaki, two weeks ago, 7th of December.

It may be difficult to see, but this day, there were clear sky at the towns, but up in the mountains were cloudy...   so cold... but there were no wind. It was rather a good day for ice climbing.

 We were a team of 4 people.

Two women, tow men, so we can make up two partnerships, with two ropes.
 This is the small fall in the South Creek(minamisawa kotaki).

 We gathered at 5:30 then walked to the fall about an hour with our head lights on.

There are so much snow in the fall so the length of the fall has gotten shorter than the first time we came here two weeks ago.

 This is the crampons.  Cassin's blade runner.

The gears are very expensive and everyone knows Japanese are taken advantage of being ignorant about what prices are norm outside of Japan.

This will cost us over 36000 yen.

This crampons are not sold in Japan yet.

This is the sales promotion rink.

I need a new pair of crampons since I like to go to variation routes in the mountains...

It's been 4 years since I have started to climb the winter mountains.

I was a beginner then step by step I leveled up myself and learning about mountaineering as such... I am still a beginner as a climber but no more a beginner as a snow hiker.

This is a lead climb.

Lead climb are very dangerous.

Ice climbing is more dangerous than rock climbing, since there are a lot of ice fall.

When you are climbing rock wall, no rock usually fall.

But in Ice, ice fall is expected.

I have seen a man who had his face cut by the ice he had hit by his own ax, last time.

Also, there were a death accident in Jorgo Creek, the other ice climbing field in Yatsugatake area, only a few days ago.

 I can not do lead climb yet.

That means I am not yet a climber, need somebody to place a rope, to secure my climb.

The climbing system is a partnership, one climb, the other belay.

The first climber is called a lead climber and the second climber is a follower.

The lead is more difficult since you must set the ice screws as a running belay, to protect the climber when he fell.

 since it was so cold... it hard to move on...

everyone gets their arms pumped.
I had nothing to do, so I climbed the other side of the fall... looking down the people, it seem higher than looking up.
Many people started to gather... there were a large party of 20 or more... ice climbing is a hip activity.

The guy in the green jacket is leading now.

The person below wearing a huge down jacket since it was so cold.

 The edge of the fall.

 Ice fell a lot, so it is important to wear a helmet.

 It's easier than it looks.

Ice climbing is very expensive but maybe it's less skill asking, than rock climbing.
Too crowded!!

I climbed 4 times this day. 4 different lines.

 This is a very difficult line.

Me climbing. Not good foot positioning.
Also me, climbing.

Somebody yelled at me "You have a good ass!" but when you are climbing you are too busy to yell back...
As weather forecast said, snow started to fall in the afternoon...

15:00  end of climbing
15:30  get started to go home
16:30  at parking lot
17:00  our cars get started

I  came home at 18:40. So it is real advantage to live in Kofu, Yamanashi.

My toe's finger had a small frozen bite.

The parking lot at 17:00

Below is the map. An hour of drive and an hour of walk, then you are climbing!

This is a sort of practice of climbing so you will be well prepared to the route climbing....much longer and much wilder.

I have a plan to go Hirogawara sawa route climbing in January so  I was very glad to be able to climb here in advance!

In life, the more I realize it's important to be thankful of what you have, the more I  go to the snowy mountains.

It's the expression for me, of being thankful on where I live, who I am, and what I have.

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