下甲斐駒変 ESPRESSO WALL MIXED LINES

despite a good range of well known ice routes the mixed lines at lower kaikomagatake are almost never climbed. obvious and striking and right by the access road, the hardish mixed lines are short, direct, bold and powerful – earning them the name Espresso Wall.

thin, techy & steep: Reed tapping his way thru the middle section of Espresso With Ed . who says you cant climb delicate ice in horizontals?

riding a precise weather window we sunk a few days into cleaning, developing and sequencing a couple of Espresso Wall’s lines. navigating the freeze-thaw oscillation to avoid the legion of hanging ice on Espresso Wall’s mostly-overhanging face, we got 2 routes climbable, going at about WI5+ / M4 and WI5 / M6.

pumped out, frantic and athletic: Reed approaching the only rest on Espresso With Reed, just to the right of Espresso with Ed

due to being ignored over the years, everything on Espresso Wall needs careful cleaning on rappel and top rope. granite blocks teeter on slick ledges, all the cracks are full of grass and thick icicles form rapidly as soon as the sun goes then shed when it comes back. the sound of crashing ice forms the ambient soundscape of Espresso Wall. also a good thing, the absence of any action means the entire face is bolt, peg and rivet free.

debris at the base of Espresso Wall after a days cleaning

around the sessions on Lower Kaikomas esoteric routes theres lots of time for getting onto the Japanese classics. known mostly for the gully routes, Lower Kaikoma has little of the crowds that throng to yatsugatake, and is several degrees warmer with earlier direct sunlight.

warming up on Lower Kaikoma’s signature ice fall – albeit on the rarely climbed left pillar mixed line

one of Lower Kaikoma’s granite boulder caves that adorn the gully routes

cold, twisting and a good mix of snow, rock and ice: Lower Kaikoma’s gully routes combine trad alpine climbing with quintessential japanese landscapes

the ‘Kaikomagatake Hilton’: south facing and at only about 1400m, Lower Kaikoma gets early sun that makes it comfortable to bivvy

hard mixed climbing doesnt have to mean hard living: when the days warm up and there’s too much ice crashing down, the wait till the sun goes need not be wasted