Lost in time

Go on, ask me about the snake. About the pit viper that almost bit the Other Englishman while we climbed the knife edge to Hoshi-Ana-dake. How we stole into the off-limits climbing route in the early hours of the morning, and threaded our rope up its black walls. About the bunch of wilting flowers stuffed into a rappel sling, an offering to some departed loved one who broke on the rocks below.

Or ask about the volcanic cones of Kirishima in Kyushu, and how they smoked gently in the late autumn sun. The turquoise lakes that glint in the calderas. Of climbs though stunted groves of shimmering birch trees and over iron red pumice, to stare into the sheer maw of these holes in the earth’s crust.

Maybe ask too for the tale of a pre-dawn ascent under a planetarium sky, on a holy volcano where the gods of Japan first descended in myth. And how we crested the peak to meet the dawn of a new day, the sun surging from a boiling sea of cloud below. Or of the lightning that strafed the ridge of Mt Sobo and kept us cowering in the valley below. The climbs through soundless forests in the night, dissolving ourselves in the thin beam of our headlamps until we could no longer remember who or how we were.

We’ve seen so much. One day I’ll tell you about all this.