Monday, April 24, 2006

Using the ropes

The highlight of my week this week was when I successfully completed a route on the Rat Walls known as Junne. Junne comes with a red sticker, which means it's not as easy as routes with yellow or white stickers next to them. The tricky bit is a long monkey leap from one hold to another, leaving you in mid air having to hold your body weight with your arms stretched right out each side. After many, many attempts I cracked it.

I used ropes for the first time yesterday and learned a bit about belaying. I've always been more interested in the physical side of climbing, sticking to shorter, more technical routes. But I'll be using them more often from now on because yesterday was a lot of fun.

I went up to the mountain this morning. Took the same route as I have done these past few weekends and struggled with the wrong hiking equipment as I have done on several occasions before. The snowpack was like a big sluch-puppy today and I chose crampons over snowshoes. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I'll never make that mistake again.

I got up to the rocks and decided to turn back because of the rough wind and hard, wet snowfall. The top was lost in a thick band of cloud and the wind was really quite powerful, so without any more than a second of thought I turned around. I decided to cut down into the ravine though, and took a different line than usual. It was interesting, though a little bit nerving as I stumbled down steep forest into the base of the wide ravine. The last time I was down there was in the Autumn so things looked a lot different. It all looked very lonely today, and things weren't helped at all by the overwhelming noise made by the wind through the trees. It was very aggressive and I was worried that things might come flying out of nowhere and whack me all of a sudden. All in all an interesting hike, however.

On Saturday night I went over to see Romanian Chris and Julian at Chris's house in Joto. I wasn't expecting to drink that much, but one of Chris's Japanese friends called and he insisted that we let him take us all to a hostess bar in town to sing karaoke. It was good, and I wish a had my camera with me because all the girls were dressed up in school uniforms, lighting cigarettes and pouring drinks for drunken Japanese guys. What would be called an outrage in Britain was just another interesing night out in Hirosaki. Not my cup of tea though.

About a week ago I put a stop to my beard growing attempt which lasted for the best part of two weeks. I wasn't surprised by how little stubble formed on my chin, or by how soft and unmanly it was. It started to look greasy though, so I whipped it off.

Chinny, chin chin!