Hakkaisan Mountain Climbing
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 climbfs starting point. The lift ride was itself
quite an experience for us as it was the first time for most of us. We
couldnft help but say gwow, ooohhh, aaahhhh 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 onefs balance became an all-important task for all of us, as one wrong step, or one wrong turn, could send not only onefs 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 hourfs 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 couldnft
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 orangeryh 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 couldnft 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 couldnft 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 couldnft 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,
aaahhhsh 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.