Haruna Kuroiwa (black rock) June 10-11, 2017
Kuroiwa is located near Haruna-ko (Haruna Lake) in Gunma Prefecture. The site is about 40 minutes car ride from Maebashi or Takasaki Intersection on Kan’etsu Express Way. The rock is about 10 minutes walk from the road.
This climbing class to teach basics to beginners was organized by Sue, and scheduled on June 11. The day before, June 10, was just a prep. Three of us (Sue, Masa and Nao) went to Kuroiwa to see the condition of the rock, and practice a little bit.
We arrived there a little late and the easy lines were occupied by others. So, we went to the left side (facing the wall) to Yankee Ridge (class IV, which is a low grade, but it was not easy!). Sue tied into a rope, but before she began climbing, we saw a tiny snake crawling on the rock face in front of us. She froze, and refused to climb. I volunteered to lead the pitch, but there was no bolt, no crack, no bush at the start of the line to secure a protection. I climbed up a little, then climbed down, throwing in a towel. After all, Sue climbed, reached to the top of the route, and belayed for us.
We had only one 50m rope, so we could not rappel down from the top. There was a scary traverse to the rappel station of the next rock from where we could rappel safely to the ground.
In the meantime, “the practice rock” became available, and we climbed 3 lines there before we finish the day
Next day, we showed up at Kuroiwa around 9 am. There were 9 of us, 4 experienced climbers and 5 beginners. The training course included how to tie into rope, how to belay, how to set self-belay, and most importantly, how to rappel. We practiced at “Practice Rock.” In addition, some of us (including me) climbed Gakuyukai Route (5.9) which is quite a popular line.
In the afternoon, we split into 3 groups and climbed a different line in a lead and second (and third) style. One group went to #18 Gulley (5.8) and another group went to #19 Crack (IV). We went to the West Ridge(IV). The pitch was slightly overhang at the start and many of the handholds were vertical, requiring a side pull. If you have a regular physique and average muscle strength, it might not be so difficult, if not, this would be hard. After Sue successfully lifted her body and disappeared, the second climber struggled for a while to take off from the ground. She finally gave up and untied the rope. I climbed the route and joined the 4 climbers sitting on the top. Then we rappelled down.
It was an exciting day of climbing.