岩 ROCK

壁 walls

Japan has lots of long granite routes in the 250m-550m range that in summer are classic aided routes often awaiting free ascents, or in winter become 3 and 4 day alpine suffer-fests

alpine clean aid climbing walls japan

obscure, unusual, cold and remote: japans alpine walls have their own standards and anomalies

 winter alpine wall japan

     japan alpine wall topo winter

topos of walls in the Northern Alps: no shortage of routes awaiting free or winter ascents

originally mostly aid routes from the 60s, these routes were the testing ground for Japanese ascents in places like Pakistan and the Pamir. today these multi-pitch objectives are A0 and A1 grades, many having been freed, but many others still as yet waiting. the majority don’t have winter ascents, and the combination of winter-free ascents is rarer still.

japan alpine wall climbing

for a bigger blurb on Japans forgotten walls go HERE to see the blog post

as always, if these routes were in Europe or Nth America they would get intense interest, but being in Japan they are quiet, even in the warmer months. long crack systems, evil roofs, deep chimneys and thin seams make for focused climbing. many routes are between 350m and 450m high, made up of about 9 – 15 pitches, and most routes top out at between 2500m and 3000m.

logistically these routes are doable year round – relaxing experiences in summer (mid-April to September) or hard exped style in winter (late November to early April). Spring sees the snow taper, with approaches up long avenues of snow pack right to the base of the routes. approaches can be 1 or 2 day affairs.

winter alpine walls hanging stove etc japan

getting your confined space living skills streamlined is a big deal on cold alpine ledges

on the routes themselves things are done ‘Alpine Wall style’, lighter than ‘full’ wall-style, but with stripped down wall gear. tents are used as a base set up, but then portaledges become the favored mode for when things go vertical. days hunkered down with winds and snow are not unknown.

winter walls climbing northern alps japan

we run these trips as MICRO-EXPEDITIONS yet give them their own category due to being more technical, requiring specialized equipment and being on established routes. climbers interested in Alpine Wall trips should have experience of alpine faces, big wall technique and/or cold conditions climbing.

if requested preliminary TRAINING courses can be arranged to pull together the necessary skills.

serious climbing; Japan’s alpine walls are the real deal despite being barely known.

夏 summer

when the ice and snow has gone japan has a wide range of summer rock routes to keep the edge sharp. from alpine walls to multipitch and single pitch routes, aid to sport and trad, micro-exped to dirtbagging stuff, theres rock routes across the spectrum of difficulty and committment.

theres lots out there if you know where to look: Mizugaki yama. a vast area with hundreds of routes, many up to 9 pitches leading to granite spires

lots of Japan’s rock climbing was mountain stuff put up as a mix of aid and trad back in the day, with much of it considered training for bigger goals as much as a sport in its own right. these routes are often a bit more remote, require simple AO/A1 skills and are usually between 4 and 10 pitches – making them ideal for honing alpine skills without the added nastiness of winter.

the last few decades have seen the explosion of sport and trad routes, with many of the old routes going free and whole areas opening up with single and multipitch routes ranging from bolted to totally natural. lots of this climbing is still on mountains, but not all requires monster approachs like the alpine walls, making good options for summer basecamps over several days.

from regular cragging to +400m mountain faces: lots of opportunities for trad, sport and aid, including first ascents

in general, the bigger rock climbing areas are on granite, some with long crack sections and off-widths, others with big slabs and roofs. most of the grades hover around 5.10-5.11, but with japan being the home of several hard-end climbers theres lots of stuff up to 5.14 like Dai Koyamadas ‘Mada Dabi’. those just getting into rock climbing neednt worry either, with dozens of 5.8 & 5.9 routes too, many single pitch and well protected.

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