Interest in Sendai’s White Dragon Wall is gathering for next winter, with about half of the prime season already booked. interest is coming in from around the world as the project expands and the buzz of quality routes in an exotic location gathers.
this is Japanese climbing distilled to its essence – streamlined, hard, esoteric and bold.
when is the season?
iceclimbingjapan will devote late-January to mid-February almost solely to the White Dragon Wall area. During this time we will run regular trips in there, keeping a consistent presence and equipment in the area, climbing as much as possible.
whats the climbing like?
Mostly hard, ranging upwards from WI4 on thin ice, to M9 and above and whatevers beyond that. most walls are steep and overhanging, with the ice very good quality but wind-thinned and featured – tho some routes have monster, fat icefalls. much of whats there is in multiple pitches spanning multi-stepped escarpments. theres dozens of pillars, hanging features and isolated wedding cakes. the rock its all on is chunky conglomerate in most places, volcanic, and excellent for tool placements. in many places the icefalls are weird colours. most pitches have good trees for anchors. bolting is a possibility.
approaches are between 10mins and 1hr from the valley floor, mostly steep. until late season snowshoes are not needed. some river crossings are required. primary access is along established roads and trails.
this is not the place for beginners. the potential for first ascents is near-unlimited.
what gear is needed?
agressive tools, mono-points, double ropes and binoculars. a good selection of short screws (10 & 13cms), spectres and 60cm slings. rock gear would center on beaks, short blades, tri-cams & wires. as yet theres few if any bolts in there.
trips are days out from a basecamp so a large pack for hauling in then a day pack for climbing. the wind can be howling in some valleys so shell layers for there. nights are about -10c.
for the 2014/15 season iceclimbingjapan is providing an INTERNATIONAL CLIMBERS SERVICE where you can basically show up and climb. Fly in with your hand luggage and we will have waiting a full set of gear ready to go – crampons & helmet to salopettes & down jackets.
whats in there?
mile after mile of steep and profound ice. a lot of the routes are inside the fluting of bizarre volcanic formations, others are dripping from overhanging walls. both sides of all valleys are iced.
some routes are +150m seams of ice, others are classic alpine mixed, others are North American-style wedding cakes. Many are scary to even look at, being very exposed at the top of the ravine walls. currently there are about 30 routes logged – most from over a decade ago. conservative extimates put the number of potential routes at about +150 – not including mixed and dry lines.
how much is it?
￥99,000 per climber for 3 days/2nights
International Climbers Service ￥25,000 per climber (sizes and stocks apply)
trips to White Dragon Wall and the surrounding valleys are being limited to about 6 over the 2014/15 season, with the minimum trip being 3 days. maximum group number is 3 clients. additional days (maximum of 5) are ￥35,000 ea
this price includes
- all specialized gear
- 24hr trip support & organization
- qualified and experienced instruction
- all trip logistics
- transport from rendezvous to trailhead
- translation & communication
- permits, registration & site fees
- specific winter camping equipment
- cooking equipment & gas
WHAT IS NOT
- personal clothing (unless using the INTERNATIONAL CLIMBERS SERVICE)
- personal food & drinks
- transport to the rendezvous
- personal gear rental (packs, sleeping bags, insulated clothing etc)
- personal insurance
‘White Dragon Wall, Sendai, Japan 2015’ T-shirts will be available for ￥3500 if pre-ordered (designs to be announced)
whats the big deal?
its rare to have access to a truely world class, emerging climbing destination in its formative days – especially one thats so high quality and so easy to get to. with so much potential for first ascents of quality routes, places like these usually stay amongst in-circles for decades, only being talked about once all the definitive stuff has been done.
for anyone whos wanted to climb ice in Japan, this is the window.
where is it?
accessed from Sendai, Miyagi. White Dragon Wall’s location is being kept quiet for now. Due to where it is and the people involved a high volume of traffic is not what is wanted up there, being neither the infrastructure, contingency or development yet to have the place flooded with outsiders. Having a short season and being dangerous in some areas, things need to be sorted out before more than a few parties can be in there at the same time. It would compromise a lot of hard work to upset the status quo with an accident or unwanted behaviour right now.
one of dozens of options along White Dragon Wall – unseen, unclimbed, unnamed