Vista 454 veces, descargada 2 veces
cerca de Shirasu, Yamanashi (Japan)
NB: the GPS got completely haywire about elevation recordings, in all it must have been around 400m elevation change plus what corresponds to 4 climbs (so less than 100m)
Total distance is probably around 6 km.
Until the day before it was not clear where we would go, the weather forecast was relatively bad and it proved to be just like that, it snowed about 20 cm and just when we were done we eventually saw some blue skies...
The forest road was partly covered in ice and snow, yet it was manageable without chains. We parked at the gate and walked on the remaining 3 km or so until we reached the first waterfall. There was a wooden shelter with a bench and it was appreciable. Some people were already on the ice so we moved to the second waterfall about 5 minutes higher. We were the first party but soon were met by 2 other groups. At some points it was necessary to cross ropes of the other groups and be careful not to hit any rope while hitting the ice with the axes.
Since it was crowded we could fix only 1 rope and that meant a lot of waiting for our group of 6. We had connected two ropes together as 1 rope was too short and so belay was performed by 2 persons, changing at the rope connection.
I climbed top rope once and then tried my luck lead climbing. There were many easy sections were setting the ice screws was easy, yet I still need more practice to be able to do it more efficiently and with the use of only one hand at a time.
While leading on ice I realized that my fingertips were getting really cold to the point of being painful, and that on a relatively warm day. Fortunately I managed to warm up my fingers once at the top and everything was back to normal by the time I was back to the bottom of the waterfall.
The ice was relatively soft and setting the screws was easy, hitting the ice with the axes sometimes led to dislocation of small blocs of ice barely exceeding 100 grams, still when that hit while one is belaying it's no pleasure. On the second half of the fall the ice was thin and after removing a short screw I could hear the water roaring below, I could see the water flowing below, the ice was not even 10 cm thick at that point.
After that we returned to the first waterfall, in the meantime more than 20 if not 30 cm of snow had piled up on the slopes and the trail was obliterated, a small traverse had to be negotiated and going down was more delicate than the straightforward trail we had walked earlier in the morning.
The afternoon was marked by 2 main events, K-san fell and let go of the axes, which remained more than 4 meters higher after the belayer had stopped the fall. Second, all the snow that had piled up on the upper and less steep section of the waterfall was suddenly blown away and a small powder avalanche dumped 5 to 10 cm of snow on us without much warning. It was followed by a much smaller one and that's the only one I could take on picture.
At the end I climbed with my camera but it was hard to take good pictures, I was too close to the ice. On the way back to the car I couldn't resist the temptation to run and use some of the energy that was left (ice climbing doesn't require much efforts from the legs).
On our way back to Tokyo, surprisingly there were no traffic jams on the highway, something I have never experienced before.
Overall, the weather was bad but it was a good practice, just the right level for beginners like me.
More pictures here: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B8dPS_LBwxeLfktPeTVzTlREMGlDTUNEbFhhQkl6aS1UVFhxU29JYjFZV294d2lQVWZVQ3M&usp=sharing