Multi-pitch climbing is my favorite form of climbing. On July 22, I had a chance to climb a multi pitch route in Yaneiwa (Roof Rock) #2 called Nanryo (South Ridge) in Ogawayama (a climbing Meccas in Japan).
There are two more Nanryo Routes in Yaneiwa #3 (Nanryo Kanagawa and Nanryo Lemon), so, don’t mix them up. Ogawayama has 20 or more multi-pitch routes.
Although Nanryo is not so popular, we could easily find the start of the route in the forest. The first pitch is a slab of about 40m (combining two pitches). My partner climbed it quickly, and I seconded pulling a 50m rope behind me in case we need it for rappelling. About the half way up, where the route was making a right turn, I tried to pull up the rope, but the rope was completely stuck. I went down to the ground to untie it from the bush. It reminded me of Murphy’s law and I was a little depressed. The second half of this pitch was a delicate slab.
The next pitch (2nd) could have been easy with the grade 5.4, but I could not see the entire route beyond the steep wall in front of us. I asked my partner to lead.
The third pitch looked like an ordinary route, with three bolts lined up at the start of the pitch. I could not reach the first bolt from the flake, so skipped it and clipped the second bolt. Then I came to a big tree, from where I could take several different routes. Walk straight to the edge of the cliff, travers the entire wall to the right, or climb up the face covered with black lichen. I could not figure it out, so I made an anchor with a sling and waited for my partner.
He looked around and said the correct route is along the round edge of the wall in front of us, which looked unclimbable to me. He climbed a little bit, and wrapped a sling around a tiny sprout of a pine tree, saying this would not catch a fall. He kept climbing and disappeared into the space behind the big wall.
The next pitch looked like an easy walk to the left. Later I found that the correct route was on the right, behind a flake, but I did not notice it then. I walked down the gulley, then climbed back up a steep gulley. After I set a protection around a big horizontal tree trunk (or was it a root?), I stepped on the next tree root, and slipped. Quickly I grabbed a nearby branch, but it broke. I fell, until I was hanging on the rope from the carabiner on the tree trunk. Except for some bruises, scratches and rope burns, I was OK. I proceeded to a ledge and changed the lead. My partner climbed up a chimney, and stood on a terrace where the NANRYO route joined SELECTION, another multi-pith route on YANEIWA#2. This route is quite popular, but nobody was climbing at that time.
My partner climbed the 4th pitch of SELECTION, which is a combination of a crack, slab, and an inside corner. The 5th pitch is easy, leading to the top of the route. However, the original route was traversing to the left, and then upward via a crack, and I asked my partner to climb it. He was a good sport, said yes, and I could second this pitch for the first time. The traverse was scary and the crack was a bit technical, but it was so exciting!!
While we were tying the ropes to rappel, it began raining. We got wet, but I was very happy as I could climb a new route!
Ogawayama is located in Kawakami Village (famous for producing lettuce) in Nagano Prefecture. Approximately 200km from Tokyo, and you definitely need a car to get there. Climbing season is from April through October. The rock there is granite.