Lost in time

November 5, 2009 | Filed Under Uncategorized 

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.


20 Responses to “Lost in time”

  1. David on November 5th, 2009 2:37 pm

    Behind the story telling, this post gives me the impression of a rush to evacuate a gigantic amount of pressure accumulated in the previous weeks. You keep teasing us, addicted readers, with a handful of tiny episodes we’d like to see (any viper pics?) but all that shows up is simple lines of landscape. Seems like it all happened so fast you didn’t have time to take the shots.

  2. Clint on November 5th, 2009 3:12 pm

    Those are some awesome use of silhouettes to convey a sense of size. Looking forward to the stories!

  3. Hendrik M on November 5th, 2009 3:26 pm

    Great stuff, Chris. Captivating writing, remarkable photographs. We want more, of both.

  4. Tornadoes28 on November 5th, 2009 4:15 pm

    Amazing, beautiful colors and light in that first photo.

  5. Jason on November 5th, 2009 4:38 pm

    I really like the last silhouette photograph. Very nice sky gradient backlighting the person.

  6. Joe on November 5th, 2009 9:30 pm

    Beautiful as ever Chris. Looking forward to the winter?

  7. wes on November 5th, 2009 9:52 pm

    I think you’ve just written the preface to your new book.

    or perhaps the trailer to your upcoming feature film.

    The perfect teaser for what appears to be another productive winter. Looking forward to the write-ups, but first, get out there and enjoy the snow!

  8. Dave Hollin on November 6th, 2009 12:48 am

    love the first picture but then I expect nothing less than superlative shots from you from now on Chris… :)

  9. Tracy on November 6th, 2009 1:55 am

    Look forward to it!

  10. Project Hyakumeizan on November 6th, 2009 7:19 pm

    As I’m mooting an Inspection of Kirishima and Takachiho in the next two weeks, I’m somewhat concerned to read that the area is seething with “pit vipers” (they’re the ones that are as aggressive as pit bull terriers, I would assume). Any hints on how to avoid them?

  11. Peter Skov on November 12th, 2009 5:16 am

    I’d like to read those tales someday. Until then, the tantelizing tidbits you offered here have my proverbial mouth watering.

  12. Hirobot on November 16th, 2009 8:38 am

    Gorgeous photos!

  13. Rockie on November 16th, 2009 9:20 am

    Best blog on the net. ☮☮☮

  14. The Envoy on November 17th, 2009 3:26 am

    I feel the pull too. Was down in Borneo last week on a fieldtrip…once I had my hiking boots on, something took over me and all the worries and stress from the office just melted away….if only for a moment.

  15. Joshua Zimmerman on November 19th, 2009 8:47 am

    Wonderful pictures! I keep doing hiking trips around Yamanashi and am always amazed by the beauty of Japan’s mountains and landscape. Its a shame that more Japanese people don’t take some time and see it all.

  16. Mike on November 19th, 2009 12:00 pm

    I would ask about the snake, but I already heard the engaging story ;)

    I tagged you in my latest post about meeting Japan’s bloggers:


    Wonderful pictures as usual, especially out of that grinding old Nikon you have!

  17. CJW on November 23rd, 2009 7:06 am

    Hi David – you’re dead right – too much going on right now, and too few pics to go with it.. This will be rectified, though!

    Clint, Hendrik, Tornadoes28, Jason – thanks guys. As I mentioned above, I will get life in order and work through the backlog of photos and trips, and everything else..

    Joe – looking forward to it would be putting it mildly :-)

    Hey Wes – one day, dude, one day…

    Dave – Myogi (or rather, Hoshiana-dake, which those spires are) is a b*gger to photograph. It’s low (only 1080m) and hazy, and the mountain itself is dark rock and aligned east-west, so either the skies are blown out of the mountain is. I had to post-process a bit too much to get that shot – but I’m happy you like it!!

    Tracy – coming up shortly!!

    Project Hyakumeizan – good to see you the other day, and look forward to the Kyushu reports (sans snakes, of course!)

    Peter/Hirobot/Rockie – thanks, as always – you’re all far too kind..

    The Envoy – good to hear. You didn’t make it up Kinabalu by any chance?

    Joshua – absolutely right, it is a shame. But then, I like my mountains to myself, so I’m not entirely sorry that the crowds stay away :-) BTW, enjoying your daily Fuji photos!

    Mike – good to finally meet you the other evening, and thanks for the link. You’re one of the few to know the snake story.. And never underestimate the miraculous self-healing powers of the Nikkor 18-200mm VR lens. A few good twists and it is completely back to normal now! Of course, the exterior (as you saw) is beyond redemption, but then we all have a few scars.

  18. Nigel on November 23rd, 2009 11:33 am

    Beautiful pics again Chris.

    I am thinking of taking some new camping gear for a practice run down to Amagi over the coming weekend … just wondered what your recommendations for camp grounds/spots and onsen?


  19. The Envoy on November 23rd, 2009 12:13 pm

    Kinabalu? Nah, it was this geological fieldtrip (school) by my company, so we just went around some tiny hills/cliffs in Labuan and Bintulu, with our notebooks.

  20. CJW on November 23rd, 2009 12:18 pm

    Hey Nigel, good to hear from you. For campsites near Amagi, I’m not going to be of much help I’m afraid – we peeled off the main road and drove into the hills before pitching beside some random river. For onsen, however, I’d definitely recommend you take a wander to Shuzenji if you haven’t been – it’s the last stop on the train line out of Mishima. Beautiful place, and a whole bunch of good onsen down there.

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