Time  9 hours 52 minutes

Coordinates 1515

Uploaded June 3, 2015

Recorded June 2015

4,594 f
2,073 f
13.98 mi

Viewed 1127 times, downloaded 1 times

near Doai, Gunma (Japan)

Day climb on the South ridge of Ichinokura sawa (一ノ倉沢南稜)

NB: Due to the sheer faces of the mountain in that area, the gps track is highly compromised and absolutely unreliable on the field. If you're thinking of downloading the track for navigation, WRONG, read a topo instead.

We pitched the tent at Ichinokura deai, there is a bus stop and toilets, it's great for camping. The sky was dubious when we woke up at 3 AM, clear enough to guess the shape of the mountains but not too much so that we could barely make out a few stars, also clouds were hanging on Shiragamon and Asahi to the East. The forecast had said sunny in the morning and cloudy in the afternoon so we were worried (in the end the weather only improved and it was perfect from around the last pitch to past the time when we returned to the car).

We started at 4:05 AM, the sky dimly lit. The approach starts by walking on a névé that stretches over more than 2 km in length. At this time of the year it is very stable and from the bus stop we walk immediately on it. The slope increases progressively but we start walking on rocks after about 1 km before it starts to get too steep, no need for crampons nor ice axes.

After the névé the approach alternates between very steep trail and bare rock, there are many holds but it already requires climbing skills to negotiate. A few fixed ropes remain and a lot more anchors with new bolts and slings give the impression that it could be a good idea to rope up from a lower point. It was particularly hot and taking pictures I was lagging behind.

The first pitch (grade IV) felt barely more technical than the rocky stretches on the approach. A party of 4 we had split in 2 by 2, with my partner we were on the second rope, alternating leads. Some pitches were split in 2 due to friction on the rope to avoid unnecessary entanglements. I didn't feel there was anything delicate technically speaking.

The rocks are treacherous though, probably due to the intense snowfalls, frost de-frost cycles in the area, (the top of the névé was scared and the crevaces had probably a depth nearing 10 meters, the névé was well above 2 meters high at the side where we left it to walk on the rock). Some seem stable but could be dislodged from the rock face fairly easily. We heard powerful noises, likely avalanches or falling seracs but could not confirm visually.

Around 8:25 we reached the end of the climbing route and made our way down back to the start of the first pitch rappelling. With four ropes we fixed two sets of two ropes consecutively to go faster, however untangling the ropes after each descent is time consuming, but trying to save time by rushing the rappel always leads to bad surprises.

We retrieved our shoes and some more gears we had left at the bottom of the first pitch and went for another rappel, nearing 50 meters. From there we walked back to the névé following the same way we had taken in the early morning. Going down felt at least twice steeper and we felt a rise in adrenalin. Surely going down there with wet rocks would be an ordeal and the many anchors would be appreciated to rappel as much as possible.

We got back to the tent at 12:40. Going down proved almost as time consuming as going up. After taking a break, packing the tent etc. we walked the 3.6 km back to the car and were done by 14:00.

Overall a great day, technically easy climbing, most of the adrenalin felt during the approach going downhill.

More pictures here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B8dPS_LBwxeLfjFaQy1SYXpRZmc0T1ZVS2drWFdkMUVqRm9UZUhSaVFSek9qZ3UtVVRUZUU&authuser=0























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