mizugaki-yama is the quintessential Japanese mountain; high spires of teetering granite, gravity-defying conifer trees, trickling waterfalls and narrow gorges emerging from a sea of quiet deciduous forest and layers upward drifting mist. straight from an old ink painting, Mizugaki is as much an icon of Japanese-ness as it is of serious climbing. whilst crowds flock to Ogawa-yama, Mizugaki to the south remains quiet, the trails still faint and hundreds of lines still unclimbed.
more accessible than Kaikomagatakes alpine faces and less confronting than the big routes on Byu-bo Iwa, Mizugakis spires and walls are home to multi-pitch routes that link cedar covered ledges via long granite cracks and bold faces, making it an obvious choice for summer multi-day routes staged either from the base or wall-style, bivvying on the ledges. mizugaki is a good place to learn and refine alpine technique, with only the short stuff bolted, leaving the bigger routes either totally free or relying on just ancient bits of dubious iron-work.
most of Mizugakis climbing is at the harder end of the spectrum with a lot of 5.12s & 5.13s. big routes stretch to around 11 pitches, with a lot of pitch-length cracks and deep off-widths – which combined with the hard grades make for a good Clean Aid training ground.
steep lines and hand-width cracks; Mizugakis granite spires has hundreds of options for training and development
no heavy gloves, down jackets, frozen hands, sharp tools or icy ropes; to make winters efficient theres a lot of preparation thats easier done in summer.
packing & carrying in all the gear is one thing, using it is another; alpine aid is a fine balance between resources and skill, with complex routes needing a wide of applied abilities
summer climbing trips up onto Mizugakis faces tend to be relaxed, staying in caves and on pine needle-softened ledges. being at cloud level at about 1900m makes for ever-changing conditions as mist and cloud swirls between the spires, the sun bakes the exposed granite and views down the valley open up.
a long way from winter; long days mean early starts and time to take things in. sometimes getting the coffee right is as important as chosing the route.