Normal service will resume…

March 17, 2009 | Filed Under Uncategorized 

… shortly, but in the meantime, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to Mt Myogi:

3500 feet of fixed rope and chain..

..crudely fixed ladders..

..and vertical chimneys.

A hidden, and deserted, jewel in the Gunma ranges.


22 Responses to “Normal service will resume…”

  1. wes on March 17th, 2009 1:44 pm

    great photos as usual. Don’t forget that Myogi also happens to be one of the 200 famous mountains.

  2. Tornadoes28 on March 17th, 2009 3:36 pm

    Wow, is that the only route up the mountain? via a manmade ledge along a cliff side?

  3. fw on March 17th, 2009 6:15 pm

    Wow, this looks extraordinary. I would love to be there.

    I have been enjoying your outstanding blog for amny months. Thank you for sharing your photos and experiences.

  4. Martin Rye on March 17th, 2009 7:36 pm

    A very exciting trail you found there. I always think they look exciting to read about. I might find them scary to do. Great photos as always.

  5. Shane on March 18th, 2009 2:58 am

    That’s one narrow and precarious looking trail! Thanks for the warning/I mean lovely pictures ;)

  6. julian on March 18th, 2009 5:50 am

    You’ve probably done it already, but if not, you might enjoy the hairy cliff-face Shimonoroku route from the Kurobe dam.

    What are the good-looking boots you’re wearing?

  7. Captain Interesting on March 18th, 2009 8:39 pm

    Looks suspiciously like Yamabushi territory….

  8. billywest on March 19th, 2009 1:54 am

    Any good, fairly safe climbs for beginners this spring/summer season?

  9. Peter Skov on March 19th, 2009 4:09 am

    I have been to Myogi for hiking at least twice but both times the sky and lighting was not really the best for photography. Last year I drove up to the backside and studied the trail routes. I intend to get up there. I can see by your photos that there is nothing there I haven’t already experienced. I will get there. It’s a great place for photographing ancient and weathered volcanic rocks. Have you seen the arches around the south side?

  10. David H. on March 19th, 2009 7:00 am

    I wonder if the fixed ropes etc are kept in decent condition? I learned my lesson once on those sorts of things…

  11. David Shackelford on March 20th, 2009 2:31 pm

    That looks like a lot of fun. Your blog has been inspirational; I’m going to try to get a climb in between the end of school in July and my return home to the states in August.

  12. I-CJW on March 22nd, 2009 1:51 am

    Wes – deservedly a 200-meizan! It’s a beautiful mountain, both to look at from afar and to climb. I think you’d like it a lot..

    Tornadoes28 – pretty much, that’s the route! Thank goodness for all that fixed protection…

    fw – it was a lot of fun. I’d seen Myogi from the expressway a few months ago, and been utterly entranced by it, so climbing it really scratched an itch.

    Martin – yes, there were a couple of “moments” on the airier sections. The mountain is basically the remains of an old volcanic caldera, so a lot of sheer granite walls and pretty interesting climbing!

    Shane – yup, certainly wasn’t your run-of-the-mill hike.. The whole trail is marked “kiken/dangerous”, and I was very glad to have my harness. Probably in the summer it’s easier, but there was still a fair bit of ice and snow around on the north-east side of those ridges.

    Julian – is the Shimonoroku the 1m wide trail they carved into the cliff when they were building the dam? A guy on Yari told me about that, it sounds awesome! Those boots, my friend, are the fantastic Aku Spider Kevlars. Overkill for Myogi as it turned out, but then we didn’t know what conditions would be like.

    Captain – I suspect so, although we heard no blowing of conch shells that weekend. Mrs CJW is keen to go, so further investigation will be carried out!

    BillyWest – Tanzawa is always open & safe, with awesome views on a clear day. Other easy options from Tokyo are Kumotori, Mizugaki, Kinpu… Shoot me an email if you want any details.

    Peter – you’d be fine up there. Worth taking a couple of slings and karabiners just in case though. I was interested that you said the light was not good for photography – I experienced exactly the same thing. On a sunny day, you get that bad combination of a black granite mountain, lower altitude haze and bright sky. I think a misty day might actually be better up there.. We didn’t make it to the arches, saving those (and the technical route above them) for another day!

    David H. – actually, the fixed pro was in surprisingly good condition. There was just one section (the mushroom shaped summit rock on Ontake) where I couldn’t see the top bolt, and which would have meant a perilous swing out over a 50m drop to get onto. I passed on that one…

    David S. – great to hear that! Shoot me an email/twitter/comment if you need any pointers for places to go.

  13. Mikael on March 22nd, 2009 8:23 pm

    Now that’s an interesting hike/climb. I came across a few hills with fixed protection when I was living in Japan some years back, but nothing this extensive. That rock and soil looks pretty loose and steep, though, so it’s good it’s there.

  14. KamoshikaBob on March 23rd, 2009 5:10 am

    Is that first shot from the Kurabuchi side of the valley? Once years ago, I was driving toward Matsuida (aka the foot of Myogi) via Kurabuchi-mura, and as I crested a rise this huge, puffy, clump of cloud greeted me from the horizon. Except that it was a cloudy overcast that day. Myogi really is a unique and visually impressive mountain, that one could expect to be in the 100 meizan…

    I can also recall the view from the summit of Asama at sunrise, and trying to distinguish between the fog blanket over Karuizawa and the fluffy outcrops of Myogi further in the distance.

    Though I grew up spending summers in Karuizawa, passing under the shadow of Myogi as we journeyed from Kawasaki, I have never taken the time to hike around there, but I suppose you could spend an entire day and not get bored. But if you do, there is Arafune nearby, which may fit in the category of being more impressive to look up at than to climb, but I still find table-top mountains rather fascinating.

    PS: I live within sight of Naeba, perhaps Japan’s best table-top.

  15. julian on March 23rd, 2009 8:59 am

    Shimonoroka is indeed that 1-meter wide path cut/blasted out of the rock face to build the Kurobe Dam, with a nice hut & rotemburo at the half-way point of the two-day route.

    You’ll find plenty of links, or 下の廊下 on Google images will whet your appetite. Autumn colours are spectacular.

  16. Simon from Aku on March 23rd, 2009 10:04 pm

    Awe inspiring images – a great site.

    Pleased to see your AKU Spider’s are still going strong. When they eventually need replacing, take a look at the new Spider Lite. Two more additions to the Spider boot family coming in the Fall. If you want more info, let me know.

    Simon (the AKU rep for Southern England)

  17. I-CJW on March 24th, 2009 9:59 am

    KamoshikaBob – it’s actually taken from the other side, from Ura-Myogi, but looking towards that great ridge that’s visible from Matsuida. You’re dead right about Myogi being an impressive mountain – the first time I saw it, I nearly steered the car off the road! And you could easily spend three or more days up there exploring, there’s a lot more to it than it’s 1100m would suggest..

    Julian – mmm, Shimonoroka looks like a good trail, I might well give that a go this year. By the way, I finally got a GPS unit – still working it out, but many, many thanks for the pointers.

    Simon – I’m an enormous fan of the Spiders, they get recommended to everyone. Also very pleased with the Suiterra Injected for summer use. Both are still going strong, but when they eventually succumb, I’ll definitely take a look at the new range!

  18. Ole on March 25th, 2009 4:46 am

    I’ve read most of your blog now, because of the amazing pictures, the great quotes and that I might end up climbing Japanese mountains some day.

    Also in the “About” section you reveal “.. and work at a hedge fund in Tokyo”, which I find most interesting- because I want a hedge fund job in Japan in a few years(but I’m also considering New York). Please tell me how you got the job, how good your Japanese is and what your education is? I’m sorry to be so prying, but this subject is of great interest to me.

    As for myself, I’ve just started with studying economics, which will lead to a masters in technology(finance or economics). I believe that I might need some extra education after that, but for now I’m studing Japanese and maths as optionial subjects and doing well in both.

  19. I-CJW on March 25th, 2009 10:59 am

    Hi Ole – thanks for reading, I do hope that you get the chance someday to come to Japan’s mountains. I’ll shoot you an email with the information you’re asking about. Hopefully there will still be some Japanese hedge funds left by the time you graduate…. ;-)

  20. Peter Skov on April 11th, 2009 1:35 am

    Yes, one thing I am still having a hard time with in Japan is the light. I can see why so many Japanese landscape and nature photographs are in misty weather conditions. That haze just vanquishes any hope of decent alpine glow, even at higher elevations. Sunny days are disappointments. You need to be there when a storm is just clearing to get anything really exciting. Perhaps thats the biggest challenge here: overcoming the light and atmospheric conditions.

  21. Frank on April 11th, 2009 2:52 pm

    I’m jealous. I am about to go hiking for the first time in Japan after many hikes in my home country of Australia. I have a conference in Nagoya and it seems that the Kansai Pilgrimage region is the closest for a good hike. I have chosen the Omine-san (including Mt. Hakken) route from Lonely Planet. Your blog has inspired me !

  22. I-CJW on April 15th, 2009 7:36 am

    Peter – very true. I guess we have to just keep working with what we’ve get given!

    Frank – that’s a good route, there’s plenty to see along there. I’m pleased the blog provided some inspiration – I can’t think of a higher compliment!

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