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Spring Rock Climbing In Ogawayama

May 25, 2016

I visited Ogawayama in the fall last year. The place is absolutely massive with a lifetime of rock climbing littered throughout the alpine valley. The rock here tends to be big with numerous tall formations that afford many fun multi-pitch rock climbs. The first day we did a monster route that is 8-10 pitches long (depending on your rope length and how you link them). The second day we did a short, yet spectacular, three pitch route.

Day 1 - Left Ridge of Eboshi

The Eboshi massif is the largest piece of rock in Ogawayama. Starting from the lowest point to the summit affords one ten pitches of fabulous rock climbing. Out of the ten pitches, there was maybe 10 meters of bad rock.

The view from pitch 5 or so... There is so much rock here.

✦ Pitch 1 - Climb the obvious steep trough. The rock looks bad but is solid. Traverse a jungle ledge up to the big crack with a pine tree growing out of it. Trend to the right and run it out to the big ledge.

✦ Pitch 2 - Climb the face dotted with chicken heads (where the formation gets its name apparently). Then traverse the sandy ledge around the corner and then climb to the base of the obvious head wall.

✦ Pitch 3 - You could potentially link this with pitch 2 but rope drag could be horrendous. Look out for loose rock on this pitch. Lots of old pitons and bolts on this pitch too.

✦ Pitch 4 & 5 - Run out Class 3 and 4 ridge line with a few spots of well protected easy 5th class thrown in.

✦ Pitch 6 - Exposed climb up the head wall following the old pitons.

✦ Pitch 7 - Climb to the top of the massive boulder perched on the ridge line, then climb down/rappel the other side. Continue on easy 3rd class terrain making two 90° turns. Rope drag is bad, preferable to run it out to reduce rope drag.

✦ Pitch 8 - Easy climbing through the off-width.

✦ Pitch 9 - The money pitch. Start by traversing the 3rd class ridge line. Once at the base of the head wall step out over 200'+ of air and ascend the glorious hand crack that is over too soon.

From the summit follow the climbers trail around back. There is a one pitch rappel to the climber's right of the formation from an old pine. Once you are at the bottom, follow the faint trail for about one hour to the valley floor.

Back at the campground we headed down to the lodge for a nice soak in the bath that costs ¥400 (tattoos are no problem btw). After a nice soak we stocked up on beer and firewood and headed back to camp.

Day 2 - South Ridge Kanagawa of Roof Rock Peak #3.

In the morning of the second day a group of fly fisherman came through. I watched them for awhile but they did not catch anything...

After a lazy morning we set off for a shorter climb. The approach was pretty steep and the weather much warmer than the day before, so I was moving pretty slowly.

Pitch 1 follows the obvious corner - 5.6.

Looking up pitch 2 - below the tree is some very loose rock.

✦ Pitch 1 - Follow the chimney/corner to the obvious ledge. Pro is good but a little tricky.

✦ Pitch 2 - Begin by following the obvious crack then make a very exposed lay back move up the awkward yet solid crack (there is an easy to miss bolt that protects the runout).

✦ Pitch 3 - Climb the off width. It is best to dangle your pack (if you are carrying one) below you for this pitch. It is an epic squeeze.

Ogawayama is a magical place with a seemingly limitless amount of rock climbing. It is only three hours or so from Tokyo and consequently it can be very crowded on the weekends. When I visited this time it was mid-week and we only saw a few other climbing parties. The weather also tends to be 10-20°C cooler than Tokyo too during the summer so it is a great place to visit during the summer. On the other side of the mountain is Mizugakiyama Natural Park which also offers some great climbing, it is a bit more remote with longer approaches. It is next on my list of places to visit.

Minamisaku southern fishery cooperatives - Ogawayama is where the red arrow is pointing.

Lastly, the rivers in and around Ogawayama are rumored to offer phenomenal fishing for Iwana. A day license costs ¥1700. If a ranger catches you though without a license your rod will be confiscated. It is advisable to purchase a fishing ticket before you begin fishing as you cannot purchase one from the ranger. You can purchase a fishing ticket/license at the lodge in the campground.

Written by Isaac Tait who now lives in San Diego but dreams of returning, one day, to Japan. You should follow him on Twitter