Whenever I go to work, inside my small backpack there is one rather peculiar item. I use it in times there is not much to do, like while commuting or taking a lunch break, to search for new dreams and inspiration for the future.
It is the Shobunsha map number 33, covering the whole of Japanese Alps in 1:150.000 scale, which might not make it terribly detailed, but it still shows all the main trekking routes with walking times, huts and camping sites, water sources, important notes and generally every piece of information you might need to plan a basic hike in the mountains.
If you plan to stay on these main routes during the busy summer season, I can imagine this is the only map you really need, for it is virtually impossible to get lost on those alpine trails.
What I like to do though is to look at the peaks, walls and ridges, where no trails seem to be going and imagine what it must be like to climb there. But such free climbing is not too popular in the Alps these days for reasons, which are actually quite understandable.
First of all the tree line is quite high here in central Japan, with the trees giving way to the true alpine usually somewhere between 2500 and 2600 meters. Together with general steepness of the valleys, rivers broken by frequent waterfalls and very thick vegetation, it turns any remote approaches into nightmarish endeavors by itself.
The second main reason is that the quality of rock generally leaves much to be desired with piles of loose stones and constant threat of rockfall everywhere.
There are climbing routes of various lengths and difficulties nonetheless and three of them, which I have been eyeing up for some time now, I decided to transform into this year’s summer project. They are the three famous variation routes up the rocky ridges of three equally famous mountains, namely:
The Kitaone of Maehotakadake
The Kitakamaone of Yarigatake
and the Yatsumine ridge up Tsurugidake
Because I like to give names to my dreams, let’s call it The Three Ridges project!
My plan is to attempt one at a time in three consecutive months starting with July, as soon as the rainy season is over.
Until then I won’t get anywhere into the mountains I’m afraid, but let’s make it a good time for preparation. I have already started training since the unfortunate descent of Kisokomagatake and with hope and relief I’m happy to say that I can feel no signs of trouble in my knee.
Now just to get as many days of rock climbing practice in between and let come the big days!