KENTOKUSAN is a mountain in Yamanashi prefecture (west of Tokyo). I have climbed the mountain once, but I didn’t know there are rock climbing routes near the mountain top. A friend of mine planned to climb the central ridge of HATATATE-IWA, a three-pitch route of class III to IV grade and asked me to come along. According to the climbing guidebook and other people’s records, the route had very few in-situ bolts, and no anchor on the top of the second pitch. It’s more like a traditional route, than a sports route.

We drove to OOHIRA KOGEN (approached from Hirose Lake via national road 140), and parked our car there early in the morning of May 4, and started walking at 6:45. Soon the trail joined Doman-One trail, and we continued hiking up. As we looked back, the view of mountains was breath-taking—Mount Fuji and “Southern Alps” of Japan against a blue sky.


photo by Sue


photo by Sue

Close to the mountain top, we found a small cairn, and a rappel station. We rappelled in the narrow chimney. About halfway down, there is another rappel station, and we re-set the rope here. Going to the right (with our back to the wall and facing out) to the gulley with the bushes is the right way to go. After two pitches of rappel, we walked along the bottom of the rocky face and reached a gulley filled with rocks at 10:30. That was the start of the central ridge route. We started climbing at 10:45.


The first pitch gradually gets steeper, and it is slightly overhung toward the end. Yasu, a skilled and experienced climber, took the lead and covered the whole distance (about 35m). I was the second, and climbed the ridge at a steady pace. Many of the handholds are side pulls or slopers, and the last overhang section required muscle strength. I carefully climbed and joined Yasu. Sue came up after me, and we re-arranged the ropes at the belay station so she can lead the second pitch.

The 2nd pitch was supposed to be an easy climb, but there was a soft of knife edge ridge at the start. She kept going, setting cams here and there. Somehow, she was hyperactive, and kept yelling “it’s so much fun!” which was heard by the hikers having lunch near the top of the mountain, looking down on us and taking pictures of us. I was the second. This pitch had so much exposure and scary.


The third pitch was led by Yasu again. The route followed the ridge, and there was sort of a gap between the ridge and a steep wall at the end. I stretched my leg and strode the gap and climbed up the wall section. When Sue tried to take off, she could not remove one of the three cams (#2 size) she had set to make the belay station. After a while, she gave up and left it there. We finished the climbing at 12:30.


photo by Sue

Three of us had a lunch up there, climbed to the top of KENTOKUSAN mountain, and returned to the parking by 14:50.

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