Tuesday, September 27, 2005
On the Last weekend in September I climbed the 3rd highest peak in Japan with three friends, Kirsten, Josh and Owen. I have now climbed in descending order the 3 highest mountains in Japan! Fuji-san (2002), Tateyama (2003) and Tsurugi-dake (2005)!
Even though Tsurugi is not the tallest, it is by far the most technical of the three.
At 2998 m, Tsurugi-dake is a lot of up and down scrambling over loose rock and boulders. In some areas the rock face is sheer and so you have to use chains (which are anchored into the rock) to climb both vertically and horizontally.
We hiked in on Friday morning and set up camp at the base of the mountain. This is a very popular climb - and where there are people there is -ahem, extortion....There are two lodges set up in the area along with tent sites. We opted for the tents of course!
We went to bed early on the first night after a mediocre pasta dinner (instant pasta and spam...never again). Got up at 3:30 -holy cowboys that's early -and we could already see people up on the mountain!! We had breaky, then packed our daypacks in the dark and headed for the trail head. We started the initial ascent at 5:00 a.m. -just as the sun was coming out and well behind the pack. But it didn't take us long before we were in the thick of things, giving hearty "OHAYO"s (good morning) to the people we met on the way up.
The only real mishap we encountered was a man who almost lost his backpack while waiting in line to climb the chains (yes, there was a line -this is Japan afterall). He set it down on the trail and all of a sudden it went tumbling down the mountain side. Before we knew it, another man was scrambling down to retrieve it for him. It so happened that he was part of the mountaineering staff (they jokingly refered to him as the 'mountain police'). Lucky guy!!