ontake

funny thing.

i was cramponing up, waiting for sayaka, when this dude on the ridge caught up to me.  he had on a massive pack, like 80L.  I don’t know what kind of thing he might have been up to because this mountain is a standalone volcano like Fuji and there’s really nowhere special you can go once you’ve climbed it.  But i digress.  He pulls off this giant pack to and starts digging through the main compartment.  He pulls out a roll of toilet paper in a big ziplock bag.  I think to myself, “oh shit, this dude’s gonna take a shit”.  But alas, he just blows his nose.  Then he zips up his toilet paper and stashes back in his pack, he rifles thru to find another ziplock full used snot rags, he adds to the contents, he packs that up, he shoulders his pack, he asks me where i’m from, and he takes off.

i shit you not.

but he probably doesn’t have any nose smegma come to think of it.

summit push! IMGP8005 IMGP8006 IMGP8007 IMGP8014 IMGP8016

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divine retribution

Norikura-dake, just south of the hotakas, is a mountain i’ve always reserved for mediocre days when i knew the skiing was gonna be bad.  It looks like a really easy climb/ski but for some reason i never have got the weather right and it has just kept shutting me down.  as one of the 3 standalone 3000m volcanoes in japan the wind hammers this mountain and the weather moves in pretty quick.  Third (or fourth?) time’s a charm i guess, but the weather moved in on us even quicker than it did the last time and we went from nice blue skies to “two polar bears fucking in a milk jug” in about 20mins.  At one point i was taking a leak when the wind pulled me off my feet and threw me into my own puddle of piss.  It was really difficult staying upright when cramponing with skis on our backs.  Sayaka was feeling pretty worked about 100m below the summit and huddled in a little cave while i sprinted to the top.  the snow was the worst snow i have ever skied.  Hard sastrugi interspersed with bulletproof ice in ping pong ball viz.  Sounds fun huh?skinning up, again

DSCN1293

DSCN1296

 

DSCN1299

we're sardine addicts

we’re sardine addicts

i guess that's some kind of face smegma.

i guess that’s some kind of face smegma.

 

some skiing at the end, when it didn't suck quite as bad

some skiing at the end, when it didn’t suck quite as bad

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kansai crack

I can’t remember the name of this place and it’s not in the guidebooks, but it’s where Osaka folks go to climb cracks.  This trip was one of those trips that probably wouldn’t have happened if climbing was the sole motivation.  Without going into any detail whatsoever it was a precursor to a winter that was not as rad as it probably should’ve been.

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shikoku aaaaagain?!?

she said she wanted to go back down to shikoku for the 3-day weekend.  i don’t know why.  last time we went down there i didn’t like it so much.   but i had been reading the exaggerations of Chris White and looking at his fine photos and i’ll be damned if i didn’t find the complete opposite of what he was talking about.

i guess she wanted a change.  man we have had our hands on the same old granite weekend after weekend here on honshu.  we have been repeating a lot of routes which is well, repetitive.  for her, shikoku looks, smells, and tastes different.  for me, i remembered Rock and Snow Issue #56 and the cracks of the Odo Coast.  my few functional brain cells got together to light the fire and get some trip planning going on.  yah man!

well man it was the first time in a long time that we kicked back together and ‘enjoyed every sandwich’.  we climbed some nice cracks.  we went to the orchard and picked mandarins.  we went rafting.  we went snorkling at the reef.  we bbq’d.  we onsen’d.  at one point we even bought booze (that we didn’t end up drinking cause we were too tired).  yep, that’s how wild and crazy things got.

limited photos cause i forgot to bring my SD card thingy like a knucklehead, but you’ll get the gist.

there's a good place right around here to sit outside and have lunch. i can't tell you EXACTLY how to get there, but just look for the rocks and the friggin ocean.

this place goes on forever.

sayaka leading supercrack.

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a few more boxes ticked

we climbed mt nantai.  it’s a volcano.  whatever.  nikko has beautiful cedars and what else can you do on a rainy saturday – go to Ikea?

we climbed mt naeba as fast as we could.  we ran up.  then we ran down.  it was kinda brutal.  i got yelled at for being dangerous.  that part was the highlight.

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clean livin and friend burnin

the three types of fun aren’t just limited to fun.  they extend to life in general.  at some point in the last year my life itself switched from type I to type II.  i’m not sure when it started but it was gradual.  now conflicts arise like whether or not to have a drink on my birthday (sad),  how to train 3x a day (run, crossfit, climb – absurd), and the limited options i have for eating fairly restricted diet with no alcohol, bread, sugar, beans, or dairy (just boring).  so far this seems like a sure-fire way to burn friends at the expense of moderate gains in fitness.  fuck.  the sad thing is that once you get into suffering as a matter of habit, it’s a hard thing to kick.  am i supposed to set new years resolutions like “drink more often”, “stop training so much”, and “put on a few pounds”?

so, i’d like to say that ‘Alex has moved on’.  in fact, those were the first words i wrote down after my HK trip to see him (and do some boondoggling).  but i guess it’s me who moved on.  not on.  maybe i moved off.  alex got himself a real pretty girlfriend he’s gonna marry next year and he’s working real hard.  he has that self-preservation gene that i was born without.  he’s a lucky fella and a stand-up guy.

at the end of the day, type II is type II because it ain’t actually much fun.  everyone’s right.  i gotta go back to dirty livin’, zevon tunes, bukowski books, riding lifts, salty margaritas, and cheeseburgers.  man i could murder a cheeseburger and a pale ale right now.

hk climbing. not sure if there's anything else quite like it.

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topography, biodiversity, and weather

topographically and geographically, japan is pretty rad.  the country stretches from 24-46deg north.  in contrast, the west coast of the USA in all it’s glory reaches from 33-49deg.  so you can imagine the biological diversity that japan supports.  outside of the biological diversity, you get extreme changes from top to bottom in terms of weather.  and the icing on the cake is the topography which is 77% uninhabitable mountains.  for pretty much everyone, their happy place lies at one end of the spectrum of geography/weather/biodiversity.  and honestly, those are the things that keep me here and probably prevents any chance i could ever move to singapore, hong kong, london, or new york.  so, if i keep working in finance, i’ll be right here, trying to make the most of my time in the mountains.

yakushima is an island 60km south of kyushu and it’s a microcosm of all of japan’s diversity inside 500 sq km.  it has 200 species of animals that live as far south as they possibly can and 200 species that live as far north as they possibly can.  it has 2000m peaks that gets snow and beaches that support 40% of japan’s loggerhead turtle nests.  the forest changes from subtropical rainforest to temperate rainforest to sub-alpine as you gain elevation, supporting banyan trees, oaks, fir, cypress,  and the spectacular cedars that gives the island its World Heritage Site status.

pretty rad spot.  except for the leeches.  leeches are gross.  and the rain.  lots of rain.  but, yep, otherwise rad.

leeeches!

onsen in the ocean. seriously.

mt miyanoura

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the slippery slope

The Slippery Slope – a poem by pinky

To Minamaki we set out
to try once more the peak.
The hill’s killed more than twenty score,
a figure awfully bleak.

Lady Luck abandoned us,
for weather had rolled in.
So we stopped the car and hit the bar,
to drown ourselves in gin.

Happy times from guzzling wine,
is what should be expected.
But some fukker kicked us off his land,
where our tent was erected.
I took my knife and stabbed him thrice
then pitched him in the lake.
Twenty score and now one more
in Tanigawa’s grave.
We thought it best to flee the scene
to find another spot.
We broke into the old train station,
with gypsies who sold pot.
I smoked my mind that night i lay
inside the old train station.
devoured alive by bugs i was,
no hope for relaxation.
Come dawn we fled into the hills,
to hide in nature’s attic.
Alas we frowned at what we found,
trails full of geriatrics.
To live and walk among these crowds,
i surely cannot cope.
So here i sit in Gunma jail,
trying not to drop the soap.
a tree.

 

approaching mt shibutsu

 

the part about the geriatrics was one of the non-fiction parts of the poem.

 

mt kusatsushirane. long name, short walk.

thanks for reading my poem!

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iPhone5 review

this isn’t an iphone 5 review!  jeez, what are you on mushrooms!?!  this is a story about two young folks on a magical journey on a rugged island.  two young folks on an otherworldly hike across the daisetsuzan range running thru the center of hokkaido.  here’s adventure.  here’s romance.  here’s where two hearts intertwined themselves in the bonds of love.  star-crossed lovers.  all that shit.

we were light.  light and fast.  i’m not gonna go thru what i carry in my pack but let’s just say i’m a bare bones type of guy.  ok, i’ll go thru it.  gotta keep the readers happy!  thanks for asking!!  so, reactor stove, reflex tent, thermarest neo, marmot atom sleeping bag, down jacket, headlamp, rainwear, knife.  you know i don’t wear underwear or socks and i don’t practice the dark art of personal hygiene so i can keep it pretty damn simple out there.  all that stuff weighs about zero kilos and fits into a 20L pack so i’m laughing all the way.  some japanese they carry 80L packs stuffed to the gills wtih shit hanging off the side and bear bells, doohickeys, and whatnots, and i gotta wonder what’s in there.  but.  then.  i found out.  old hiroshi broke out an electric razor at a hut the other day, i shit you not.  electric friggin’ razor.  people chopping up onions out there too.  who hikes with onions and cutting boards?  i haven’t seen anyone hiking with watermelons yet but when i see it i’ll be sure to let you know.  it’s going on somewhere in the backcountry here.  it must be.

but i digress.  this is a story about romance.  and there is nothing which brings on good old fashion romance like a healthy dose of starvation.  here’s how it went.  i suppose you’d like to reenact at home so i’ve written it as a screenplay (you’ll need two friends and some pre-recorded theater music to do this properly):

Act I.  Packing in Tokyo.

S: “hey, i’m packing the food, would you prefer lamb or chicken?”

Pinky: “lamb please”

S: “is one enough?”

Pinky: “yep”

Narrator: “what Pinky hasn’t realized is that young Sayaka meant,  ’is one enough [for both of us]?’”  suspenseful music plays.

——-

Act II.  Mid day on day 1 of the really long romantic hike.

Pinky: “Man, i sure am looking forward to that freeze-dried lamb.  What are you eating, the chicken tikka masala?”

S: “What do you mean, I’m having lamb too.  the chicken tikka masala is for tomorrow.”

Pinky: “We have two lambs?”

S: “We’re sharing the lamb.”

Pinky: “Holy shit!  are we sharing the chicken tikka masala too?  what about breakfast?  are we sharing 1 bag for breakfast?”

S: silence

Narrator: “Pinky is no stranger to the rigors of freeze dried eatin’.  He knows that one bag is barely enough for one person just sitting on the couch watchin’ monster trucks go head-to-head muchless for two star-crossed lovers on a 3-day romantic hike across the 60 kilometer chain of mountains that says minimum 5-days in the guidebook.  He quickly does the math:  1/2 freeze dried eggs (150cal), oatmeal (100cal), clif bar (250cal), lara bar (100cal), 2 gu’s (200 cal), 1/2 freeze dried lamb (250cal).  1050 cal/day.”

————–

So that’s when i murdered her.

Kidding!!  i wouldn’t do that.  it was just a misunderstanding!  whimsical music plays.

sayaka (edible) and tokachi dake (inedible)

sayaka (increasingly edible) and some clouds (tasty lookin' but unsatiating and zero nutritional value)

hey, what's for lunch? Air! with a side of air!

trail mix is tasty. trails, themselves, are inedible.

 

 


grizzly bears are edible. but hard to take down with a leatherman - the pliers are pretty totally useless.

i thought it was a toberlone chocolate but i figure it's yotei.

is that rocky road ice cream. nope!! can't eat it.

woefully thin. skin and bones really.

crowds = foooooooood!!!

asahidake. good for skiing on.

best photo of the whole trip at the friggin airport. go figure.

thanks fer readin.

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the grind of the ho’s aka the mushroom tour

getting into japan’s big mountains is a grind.  you can sit there and think up all kind of shenanigans to try to get in easier…. snowmobiles, packrafts, the ropeway over there in shinhotaka, hut-worker-buddies w/ cars, mountain bikes, a horse that knows how to go back to where you want him to (apparently you can train horses to do this – jeff’s dad said so and jeff’s dad is wise), teleportation, etc, but the only way it works is to grind it out.  and just ask the fine folks inside the nespresso machine i use at work – the secret is in the grind, man.

yari is called the ‘matterhorn of japan’.  well, i’ve climbed both and yari is nothing like the matterhorn unless your trail mix is a bag of mushrooms.  both are pointy though.  both are easily recognizable too.  and the similarities end right about there.  oh, they’re both granite too.  there’s nothing wrong with yari, i’m not trying to give it a bad rap, but whatever, it’s a fun slog.  you should climb it.  you’d have fun.  it would be more fun with a packraft and a horse that knows how to go back to where you want him to, but you’re gonna have to bite the bullet and grind it out.

the boring stuff: yari is the northermost of the 8 3000m peaks in the hotaka subrange.  it’s the 5th tallest mountain in japan at 3180m.  it has been skied from the tippitytop but the chances of pulling that one off would be pretty darn tootin’ tough unless you quit yer day job (it don’t hold much snow).  the valley that yari drains into on the east side is aptly named the yari valley and also drains 2 other 3000′ers (obami & naka – which are lame) and it’s the easiest approach to minami (which is rad).  the topographic significance of the these 4 peaks would be greatly enhanced by the aforementioned bag of mushrooms, but let’s just say that the peaks are 3000m+ and the ridge isn’t and we’ll leave it at that.

linking these peaks together to ski is pretty contrived and no where nearly as cool as skiing the rad lines a little south in the karasawa valley, but again, mushrooms would help.  minami-dake is rad actually.  don’t take the mushrooms before you ski minami-dake.  that would be dangerous.  oh and there’s a line off the north face of kitaho that is extra-special.  i’m gonna name it the amanda couloir, after a girl i liked in high school.

the grind. walking in the woods with skis.

mt yari. kinda cool. kinda big. not the matterhorn.

the grind continues for a while ya know.

the ridge up yari. kinda cool. but still. not the matterhorn. i think they actually cemented this thing together. the matterhorn could use a bit of cement.

hayden kennedy would have a field day here.

yah, summit!

obami. not rad. not lame though either i guess. just there.

toyama nights.

traversing to obami

and then up to naka.

skiing naka. time to crack open the mushrooms.

then minami. no more mushrooms.

steepness.

sayaka droppin in the only place i could figure to drop.

skiing minami.

the amanda couloir of the back of the kitaho. oh yah.

thanks for readin!

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