Facts & Figures

As I look at the dog curled up lazily in front of the log fire, it’s still surprising to think she has been up all 100 this year. That was never the plan for 2008, but somehow I got diverted from the original purpose and the dog became the raison d’etre.

Here’s a brief summary of the 100 mountains:

Total distance hiked: 1,080 km (max. 55 km in one day)
Total elevation climbed: 103,600 m (max. 4687 m in one day)
Most mountains in one day: 5
Total days of hiking: 60
Days taken off work: 14
Number climbed at night: 21
Number of dog complaints: 14
Total transport cost: Yen 651,000 (car rentals, tolls, gasoline, trains, buses)
Total accommodation cost: Yen 159,000 (incl. Kyushu + Hokkaido holiday mode with Kin)
Most beautiful?: Ridge between Sugoroku & Kasagadake
Most ugly?: The summit buildings of Ibuki
Injuries: Amazingly, none for me, & just sore paws for Hana
Lowlight?: The few aggressive alpha-male dog-haters
Highlight?: Being with the dog, and meeting so many friendly people as a result

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Akadake

Today, Akadake took almost three times as long as last year. But then hiking with a group of 25 from the Tokyo “Aspen” cycling/running club was never going to be fast, especially after they had cycled 150km yesterday to get here.

Three years ago, when Hana was a wild adolescent, she would have been uncontrollable with the excitement of so many people, but today, with 100 mountains under her collar, she remained close at heel and was a model of good behaviour.

The whole group celebrated together at the top, then we beat a hasty running retreat as the first drops of rain fell.

It feels good to have finished, after starting on February 2 with Amagi-san. The geographical spread of the mountains has taken me to beautiful parts of Japan that I would never have seen otherwise. And apart from the occasional dog-hater, I have received so much kindness and encouragement, both along the trail and on this site.

To everyone who has read this blog, I owe you a big thank-you. I never used to understand why people write blogs. But seeing the visitor statistics encouraged me to persevere through the rain and darkness on another unknown and lonely mountain when I desperately wanted to abandon and return to a warm home.

What next? Last week I came home to find that Kin had left a printed list on the kitchen table: 山梨の百名山 (The Hundred Mountains of Yamanashi Prefecture)….

Shirouma makes 99

It has been hard to stay motivated to finish the last few mountains, and Shiroumadake, No. 99, was no exception. Another long drive after work, another carpark in the dark. So Kin encouraged me to savour the moment of approaching the goal, and to enjoy this one.

As Hana and I emerged from the car at Sarakura at 4:30 am in the pre-dawn chill, a mass of reflective tape was just pulling in. What the heck? A touring bicycle! And no sooner had he stopped and got off than on went a rucksack and up the path he started. He didn’t even pause to take off his helmet and cycling gloves.

He was no spring chicken, either. Aged 65, he had retired and was doing the hyakumeizan by bicycle and camping. He proudly said he had never paid to pitch his tent (he was from Osaka).

I made my excuses, and off Hana and I shot, up the slippery damp boulders and onto the Daisekkei, perhaps the only “glacier” in Japan that is famous enough to be signposted, on the road out of Hakuba.

The trail had only just reopened, following a landslide in mid-August that killed three people. Two of the bodies had been found, but the third still remains buried somewhere under the newly formed trail that winds its way through the rubble and torn-up buried branches, which stick out unnaturally from the rocks. That final scene in The Deliverance sprang to mind.

The weather was perfect, yet there were few people on the mountain. Had they been put off by the accident?

At the summit, off came the warm clothing and on went the i-pod. What a blast! Skidding over the scree, slithering down the Daisekkei, hopping over the boulders, and a final run along the rindo, the descent took just 1 hour 15. As Kin had suggested, that was fun.

Asama revisited

With the local cycling/running team converging on Akadake this weekend, I needed to finish off No. 98 and 99.

Asama was so very different this morning compared with April, when I had turned back due to the driving ice particles that were causing the dog to run madly in circles. And not only was the weather different – there had been no sign barring the way in April.


The night was perfectly clear, and dawn stole up on us as we broke through the tree line and climbed up the cinder cone.


I had hoped to climb to the true summit, although it is officially off-limits due to sulfurous gases still belching from the crater. But the wind was against, puffs of poison rose up against the blue sky, and the path to the summit was enveloped in gas. So we headed for the official substitute, Maekake, where someone has kindly erected a summit post marked “Asama”, to satisfy the peak-hunters.