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Mount Myogi 表妙義

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Credit of the photo: Mayu

Mount Myogi is a unique mountain.
It actually is a mountain range located in the northwest of Tokyo, about 150km by the express way, and the highest peak (Soma-dake) is at an altitude of 1,103m.
The foot of the mountain is a tourist destination, with two shrines, hot springs, hotels, shops, big stone arch formations, and so on. There are two major hiking trails: Chukando, which is the middle road, relatively flat and easy trail stretching on the hillside, and Omote-myogi which follows the skyline of rugged mountains.

Omote-myogi trail is very popular but notorious for its high incidence of accidents. This “advanced course,” containing a lot of scrambling, is too dangerous for regular hikers, but not a difficult climb for serious rock climbers. Many chains are installed, a couple of fixed ropes, and one ladder leading to a crux of the cliff. The athletic nature of the advanced course reminds me of the TV program SASUKE, only difference being in case of SASUKE, if you fail you fall into a pool, but in Omote Myogi, you fall into a void.

I had walked about one third of the ridge many years ago. This time I was invited to join the group to walk the entire ridge in one day. If all the members are physically fit, and mentally strong, you don’t need to use a rope, therefore the course will take about 7 or 8 hours, plus additional 2 hours walking back to the parking.

We parked 1 car in Myogi shrine parking (starting point) and another car in Nakanodake shrine parking (finish point) to shuttle between two points and save us two hours.

Since we had a strong leader and a 50m rope with us, we should be fine!
Five of us left Myogi Shrine at about 7:30 in the morning and set out for the adventure. The initial section was just a regular mountain trail. Soon we reached steeper terrain and began to see chains on the rock surface.
We climbed up and down relying on chains. It felt easier than the last time, but I asked for a rope in one place,
“BIBIRI IWA,” meaning frightening rock. At another location, we rapped off a crag, which was slightly overhung.
Otherwise we were moving at a reasonable pace.

The rocks are either steep or knife edge ridges, where we feel very much exposed. Footholds abound and they are generally big, but sometimes they become small and delicate.

We arrived at the junction of the main trail and TARUWAKI-SAWA, an escape route. Moving on, we arrived at SOMA-DAKE at 11:35. Beyond that point, the trail became more difficult. One time I looked for a chain above an almost vertical short gully with loose rocks, but there was none. Traversing a wet wall was scary even with chains.

Anyway, at 14:35, we arrived at the bottom of TAKAMODOSHI cliff, TAKAMODOSHI meaning even hawks are unable to cling to the wall so steep, and return to the sky. There was 1 chain section, 1 seven-meter ladder, and 4 sections of chains. This is where many (fatal) accidents have occurred. We could manage this section OK, but the leader and one of our members were roped up. It took about 2 hours here–way too long.

We reached the peak of NAKANO-DAKE at 17:05. The hardest part was over, but there is one more crux which is a climb down of a long gully (the upper half is like a chimney). Although there were chains attached to the wall, we rapped off, because it’s faster and safer.

When we arrived at the parking, it was 18:30, it was getting dark, and the parking was almost closed.
We celebrated the successful descent from the mountain, and went to a hot spring nearby to soak our stiffen muscles and relax.

P1010144Early chained sections are relatively easy.  Credit: Sue

0018_xlargecredit: Mayu    Footsteps are carved out, so it’s not as bad as it looks.

 

 

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0039_xlargeName of this rock is “dorsal fin rock”

 

P1010186The leftmost peak is where we were heading for.

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0068_xlargeTraversing is not so fun. credit: Sue

 

0082_xlargecredit: Sue  This is a brand-new ladder installed in place of the old, broken ladder. The trail is well maintained.

0085_xlargeThe leader and one of the members roped up for safety.

 

0120_xlargeCredit: Kawa

We finished the hike at 18:30, and rushed to the parking lot. Our car was the only one still left in the parking.
It has been a long 11 hours in the mountain, we were thankful that all of us came back in one piece.

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