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<< Hakkaisan Mountain Climbing >>

Unique Experience Ashan Jay

12th October 2003, the day belonged to one of the first time experiences in one's life time, which is the Hakkai-san mountain climbing. The day started with little rain added to a cold zephyr in the morning, as the UMEX volunteers and the IUJ students arrived at the base camp of the Hakkai-san Mountain. The time was 8:50a.m. in my clock.

As the very name goes, Hakkai-san; the mountain with eight peaks, rises to the sky with almost 1778m (5833 ft.) in height. Our team could conquer only the first two peaks of the mountain as far as the time was concerned and the highest peak was there in the two peaks we conquered.

It was one of the greatest moments of our excursion to travel in the exciting "rope-way" also known as "gondola"; up to some extend of the mountain. The surroundings were gorgeous. I have no words to express the surroundings due to the wonted color change of the leaves. It was Exquisite!! The orange and the yellow combination of the leaves, common at this time of the year in Japan, makes the whole scene; an exotic drawing done by a nature artist. Yellow leaves of the "Maple tree" was one of the picturesque views caught my eye during our way to the top. The nature is so beautiful......

After the Gondola on our way to the summit by foot, was quite interesting though the route was muddy and swampy due to the unexpected rain. It was a no miracle that our boots got covered with mud. The closer we became to the peak, the harder the way it was and even we had to ask for the help of chains at some places to mount ourselves. It was quite risky at sometimes because of the huge slope lay on one side of us.

We happened to have our lunch before the peak, the rest we had in the cottage near the peak meant a lot to us. While everyone was so exhausted after more than two and half hours of climbing, it was a great bliss, gave us with the attaining of the peak of the mountain. The surroundings, covered with white clouds felt me like the heaven..... On our way back to the rope-way station, I felt it was easier going down rather than climbing. As my clock turned 4:15p.m., we departed from the great Hakkai-san Mountain, after a hard day of mountain climbing.

The Hakkaisan Mountain will go into my diary as a great memorial and also as the highest mountain I have ever climbed. It was later that evening, when I saw the mountain from the top story of my apartment, I felt so proud, thinking that I climbed all the way up to that peak........... Without a doubt it's a unique experience I had in my life.....


A Walk in the Clouds Jorge H. Primavera

What does it mean to walk in the clouds? It usually connotes a feeling of immense happiness and gratification. A sense of inner satisfaction where one feels almost totally complete. This is exactly how 13 of us felt when we dared conquer Hakkaisan last Sunday, 12 October 2003.

The experience was indeed a walk in the clouds, literally and figuratively speaking. Despite the seemingly rainy weather condition in the morning of the scheduled climb, nine IUJers decided to just stay on at the meeting area, hoping that somehow, the climb would push through. Not even bad weather could diminish our excitement over the thought of finally going up the mountain we have so far just seen from our quiet little dormitory rooms and classrooms at IUJ. And push through the climb did!!!

A team composed of four Japanese UMEX members led by Iguchi-san, a very good and experienced mountaineer, decided that it was still possible for us to go on with the climb. Our prayers were answered! It was as if Hakkaisan himself wanted us to tread on his slopes and discover for ourselves the hidden beauty within the giant. Hakkaisan ni ikimasyou!!!

After around 15 minutes drive from IUJ, we reached base camp at the foot of Hakkaisan at Muikamachi. From there, we had to ride a cable car ropeway lift, which took us to the climbfs starting point. The lift ride was itself quite an experience for us as it was the first time for most of us. We couldnft help but say gwow, ooohhh, aaahhhh aloud as the cable car took us higher and higher and we could see everything below getting smaller and smaller. It was still a bit raining when the actual climb started at around 9:40 am.

The route was muddy and slippery, and some of us managed to somehow slip, slide, and fall several times. Keeping onefs balance became an all-important task for all of us, as one wrong step, or one wrong turn, could send not only onefs self but everybody else falling down. The climb was like a roller coaster ride, only this time on foot, and very slow. There were several ups and downs. There were gentle ups, and very steep ups, and there were gentle downs, and very sudden downs.

After a half an hourfs climb, the rain had already stopped. The sun was not shining but the weather was just perfect. Ii tenki desu. We started taking off our raincoats, sweaters and jackets. On the way up, we couldnft help but marvel at the beauty of the different colors of the leaves of the trees. There were green, red, yellow, and orange leaves.

We even managed to coin the terms greddery, yellowery, and orangeryh to describe the colors of the leaves, and to distinguish them from the more often used word, ggreenery.h We learned that fall is the best time to climb Hakkaisan as it is during this season that all these different colors of the leaves appear. It was like the leaves suddenly became flowers!!! The whole mountain had become a flower garden! We took countless pictures not only of ourselves but of the scenery as well. It was indeed a sight to behold!

The climb also became a mini Nihon-go class session for most of us, as Iguchi-san taught us the Japanese names of many trees and plants. We also kept on repeating the words abunai, kiken, ki o tsukete, gambatte kudasai, gambarimasu, sumimasen and konnichiwa. After climbing for almost two hours, (with a couple of 5-minute rests in between), we reached an area sort of just below the top, where we had our lunch. By this time, all of us were really really very tired. That area was really a sight to behold, as one can almost feel the clouds, and sometimes one couldnft see beyond 10 meters from where he is standing. Water vapor even settled on the hair on our heads. And then the winds would just blow away the clouds, and everything would be clear again.

After lunch, we decided to go up some more. Those who were already too tired to go on just stayed on to talk and rest some more. We managed to reach the 2nd highest peak. There, one could breathe the freshest air in Japan!!! But we couldnft go on as climbing the highest peak was dangerous and very difficult. The 2nd highest peak was around 1,654 meters above sea level, so everything below has now become very very small. We tried to see as much as we could and identify places we know. We couldnft see IUJ but we could see the ski slope near Urasa station.

At around 2:20 pm, we started going down. The way down was just as difficult, if not more difficult, than the way up. Some of us wondered if we would ever reach base camp. The way down seemed endless!!! But by this time, the sun was already shining, and it kind of lifted our spirits up. We eventually reached the cable car platform, and after another set of gwows, ooohhhs, aaahhhsh inside the cable car, we finally reached base camp.

We returned to IUJ tired, but truly satisfied. The climb was truly a remarkable experience for all of us. Our senses were filled with the things that we have seen, smelled and felt. Our bodies were exhausted by the physical exertion required to go up. Our minds will forever be filled with the memories of that day when we climbed Hakkaisan. The day when we walked in the clouds.


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