(Travelled December 2016)
On the whole, we enjoyed ourselves very much! We love Japan and have a huge respect for our
the Japanese who are polite, organized, professional and have some of the best food in the world 🙂
Takao-san was very friendly, gentle, patient and genuine. We enjoyed his company throughout. Of course, we slowly learned that he is one of the most experienced mountaineers and guides around in Japan. In any case, we always felt safe with him. He also spoke well enough in English such that we could have simple conversations and understood the instructions. We would recommend him to others should they need a guide 🙂
Sounkyo is interesting. The two waterfalls are beautiful and it’s a privilege to be able to climb them. It seems we are there a bit early so the town was really quiet. Kin Shi waterfall was also great, first pitch was spectacular.
It’s our first time in Hokkaido, we are surprised how cold it is. It seems there must be endless reliable ice climbing routes here and the season is much longer than the alps. When we were in Champagny en Vanoise in end Jan last season, we were climbing on really thin ice. Routes are manageable, not too difficult. The first 30m pitch of Kin Shi was probably my favorite. Takao said that there are routes by the sea. That would be really interesting to try out when we next come back to Hokkaido.
If there is a downside, I’m not sure the value compares well to the alps. When we were in Champagny, the cost was about 350 euro a day for a local guide incl. all equipment rentals. We climbed routes that were 7-8 pitches long that took 4-5 hours. With Takao, the first day Ginga we did single pitch practices (it was a bone freezing -20 to -25 so just as well we didn’t do the multi pitch), the second day Kin Shi was a 4 pitch climb we finished around 1230 back at the car park. I understand that the cost may be due to the limited number of guides, high cost in Japan, and transportation, but if the tour was about 20 percent cheaper that could be more attractive.
I think it’s a great job what Explore & Share is doing to develop the Japanese climbing scene and open the opportunities for foreign climbers like myself. Overall I’m optimistic that there is much potential and I look forward to coming back.
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