Monday, October 18, 2004

Weekend Climb and Sakkah

Yes, at the weekend I climbed my local mountain again - the one they call Iwaki. I'm sorry if you find my Iwaki climbing logs tedious, but it's all I ever really get up to. Saying that, I did have a good game of footy on sunday. A local team has decided to take me on - as a bit of a joke I think. They called me Rooney all morning, because they couldn't pronounce my real name properly. By the way, if you don't know who Wayne Rooney is, just run a little search and look for the guy with the big ears - probably wearing a Man Utd. shirt. The highlight for everyone on sunday, except for me, was when after kicking the ball myself, it rebounded off the shins of some other guy and came flying back straight into my vernaculars. I had to sit out for a few minutes, while the rest of the guys winded themselves laughing.

The only thing different about saturday's climb was the temperature. It was much colder than the others that I've done this year. I'd say it was about the same temperature at the peak as it was in the high mountains of the South Alps. But I still wore my shorts, naturally. Below is a little climbing map that I've made, only with the help of this website and with my intuition from having climbed the mountain so many times. If you think the hiking trails that I've dotted out are completely wrong please let me know. I'm just going by the contour of the map itself.

The map is showing north as north, and the purple dot is Ajigasawa ski park. There is a trail starting from the hotel at the ski area, but I'm not sure if it's accessible these days. When I went and inquired about it at the hotel I was told that the path was too dangerous and that all the long grass had obscured it and that it would ultimately lead me to death. Well, not really, but they did seem stern about me not walking along it. You have to remember that this is Japan though, and that people will always warn you to stay at home or to stare at a slot machine in your local pachinko parlour instead of taking on a bit of a challenge. I'd recommend anybody take the challenge, and in fact I'm probably going to do it sometime next spring. Further to the right you see the little blue dot. That's Akakura dake jinja. This is my favourite route to the top of the mountain, and until the construction of the skyline road on the other side it was apparently the most popular. If you read some of the stuff on the Iwaki mountain website that I linked just above, you'll see that this route has a lot of religious significance attached to it. The pink dot on the bottom right of the page is Iwaki Jinja, where most people begin a full ascent of the mountain these days. This route is good on the second half with a nice waterfall and a bit of low rock face that you can clamber on, but the first half lacks good views and can get a bit monotonous after a while. (A bit like this weblog). Over on the left I've put a little yellow dot to mark the spa mini-town of Dake. This is where you should come out if you take the path down from the car park at the top of the skyline road, which is where I've put the green dot. If you ask me, I'd say it's best to keep away from that side of the mountain because it really has been spoilt by the construction of the road. Without that road the peak of Iwaki mountain would be an incredibly beautiful and quiet place. And if you do reach the top via a full hike from the bottom, you'll probably be a bit disappointed by the crowds. Oh well, at least now after all the hiking I've done on that mountain I know the most peaceful routes to take. I'll leave you with a shot taken from Kata no Koya on Kita dake.