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.

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7 thoughts on “Shirouma makes 99

  1. Congrats on #99. Looks like you probably had some great views up there. And a descent in 1H 15M? That might be faster than we could do on skis or snowboard..

    We are wondering if Hana is going to get a big present after you complete the last hyaku-meizan?

  2. Thanks, George. Yes, the views were amazing, uninterrupted in every direction. I guess you can just about see Shirouma from where you live.

    Have you got any good ideas for Hana’s finishing present? I’m looking forward to catching up on sleep and enjoying some relaxing weekends, but the dog probably just wants more mountains.

  3. nice one! i checked the Hakuba web cam this morning and immediately thought of you!~ There’s a low pressure system heading towards Honshu, so let’s hope it holds out for your final ascent!

    Where exactly was the landslide? Was it between Sarukura and the Daisekkei or between it and the summit (or in the Daisekkei)?

  4. The weather is certainly looking grim for the plan on Sunday, so the club might not go up, in which case I’ll go next week. Akadake shouldn’t see any snow for a while yet.

    The landslide is about where I was standing for the first photo of this blog, ie at the top of the Daisekkei where the path is on the right side of the snow going up. It’s the steepest part of the route and the rock is unstable.

    An elderly hiker I met said that a young guide and a female client were killed in the same spot four years ago.

  5. If I had been coming through at a reasonable hour, I would have certainly met up! When I’m in your area next time, let’s get together with the dogs. I’m also interested to see what you’re growing.

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