Monday, April 10, 2006

You go, no, I want.

And believe it or not, I took these as wise words today. A lady dressed in almost expedition level mountain wear greeted me on the upper ridge and somehow convinced me that the snowpack was unstable. Even though I could clearly see that there was no fresh snowfall. I followed a couple of middle-aged climbers up most of the upper half of the climb, making use of their tracks for walking stability. They must have noticed me early on because they kept looking back, probably wondering who the hell else would be interested in climbing in solitude on such a grey day.

Hakkoda, under a high layer of Stratus cloud.

The guy in yellow turned back and started walking towards me. I thought he wanted to talk and perhaps check out who it was following them. He wasn't curious at all, and explained that he'd had enough of the toil and had decided to go back down for something to eat. I said goodbye and carried on. When I got to the upper ridge I met the other one and she said that she'd looked at the final stretch of ascent and that it wasn't fit for climbing. Then she said to me, "You go, no, I want", then she said, "danger". I smiled at her and said that although she was probably right I still wanted to stand at the bottom of the last stretch and check it for myself. As I walked on she said, "I hope you go, no".

The burden of ice.

I knew exactly why she thought it wasn't safe. I was sure she'd taken one look at the red poles that had been laid out as ski routes for the coming spring ski season, and thought that they were there to warn climbers away from the top. So I strolled along the ridge towards the peak, waiting for her to duck down out of sight before I made it up the steep finale. However, I couldn't remove the idea from my head that, against all odds, if I did hurt myself and leave myself stranded without any help, I had been warned. So, after some serious talking to myself out loud, as is permitted on desolate mountain tops, and looking out onto what I had achieved already, I thought twice about making this year's first full ascent of Mt. Iwaki, and instead found myself dissuaded by a mistaken woman who simply said, "You go, no, I want".

The Tsugaru coastline, under that same layer of cloud.