Kamikochi, July 21-23, 2001

(organised by Paul Reay)


Photos (below) by Stefan and Terry

The highlight of this walk, following hard on the heels of the Ryujinkyo "disaster",
was Stefan being flown out by helicopter because of knee problems.
There were 2 groups, "easy and "difficult", both doing a 3-day walk.

First report by Paul Reay:
Kamikochi 2001 - the year of helicopter!
Just a quick mail to let you know that everyone (the 'hards' - Lester, Chisa, Kouichi and Ilya, and the 'easies' - Victor, Terry, Tadashi, Stefan (Recksiegel) and myself) got back from Kamikochi safely. We had superb weather, and views that I will remember for a very long time. This year, the 'easies' were attempting a long, circular walk from Kamikochi, and not the the one I had advertised on the list. Every Club walk appears to have its associated stories these days. These are the highlights of Kamikochi 2001:
1) I exhausted my companions on the first day, who decided to take the escape route on the second to Nakabusa Onsen, leaving me to walk alone to meet the others at Yari-ga-take.
2) We had a little nervous wait for Chisa and Ilya at the hut on the second night. The queue was so long to climb Yari (4 hours, when it should take only 1), they didn't get to the hut until 8:10 pm.
3) We lost Lester coming down from Yari on the final day. I did a 'Masako', and went looking for him, but there was no sign of him at the place of his last reported sighting. He had somehow managed to walk straight passed us at a rest stop, and we didn't see him again until Kamikochi.
4) Terry lost his wallet on the bus from Nakabusa.
AND... wait for it...
Not a Club first, he was having knee problems, later diagnosed as acute arthritis.
If you want to hear more, come along to the meeting on Wednesday.
Many thanks to the people who came along this year, particularly the car owners and drivers.
I find it quite amusing that this year, Kamikochi will be remembered more for the 'easy' walk! Shouldn't smile, but: :-)))


Second report by Ilya Budovsky:
Kamikochi 2001 - big thankyou!

Dear All,
This note is to thank the TWMC for its existence and for arranging this trip which turned out to be a once-in-a-lifetime event.
As I mentioned already, I don't know how I can come to any more walks now. So perfect was this one. Everything was there: mountains of such beauty that cannot be imagined, thrilling climbs, miraculous weather without a single cloud and, last but not least, brilliant people. I cannot think of any other walk that could match this.
I would like to give my special thanks to people who contributed to making the trip so memorable.
First and foremost - to Chisa who walked with me for most of the time and climbed with me through the difficult parts. Chisa, your company certainly made the mountains look even more beautiful.
To Paul who put so much of his heart and thought into arranging everything and pushed himself hard to complete the two 11-hour walks on the first two days to meet us at the hut. Paul, when I finally saw you on the second day I knew everything would be fine. Thanks also for introducing me to the onsen!
To Stefan whose fleece was so nice and warm and proved to be absolutely essential at the tops of those ridges.
To Tadashi for entrusting his nice van into my hands.
Some Highlights.
The most terrifying memory
Reading Paul's account of the 2000 trip. The bit where Paul describes the Cole makes your hart pound so hard you don't want to come anywhere near this. Ironically, in reality, Chisa and I simply missed the hardest point thinking that it was still ahead of us. Yes, the Cole was difficult, especially a couple of areas with very smooth rock at the top and nothing to hold on to. However, since we thought the worst was yet to come, we simply could not afford to get frightened and just made sure every step was to preserve our life not to loose it. It was only at Minami-dake that it became clear the worst was over. Perhaps it worked out for the best.
I would like to encourage those who may have this opportunity to consider this route for next year. You can do it. By the time the difficulty approaches, your mind gets so used to the heights it stops bothering you completely. The danger really awaits you at simpler bits where you inadvertently allow your concentration to relax and also, and most of all, it comes from other people whom you will have to pass and then one wrong movement on their part or yours means death.
The most dangerous bit
The summit of Yariga-Take. The queue to get there was nearly 4 hours. People in the queue exercised surprising patience and order while waiting but, when we finally got up there, it was almost dark and very windy and the people seemed to have lost all their patience moving erratically on the overcouded summit, all wanting to get a photo opportunity near the plague which said 3180m.
The worst memory
Sharing the tatami with Les on the first night. As fine a person as he is, Les turned out to have a habit of turning over to his side and pulling the blanket over with him. This, combined with very long legs, sleeping like a baby and thus not responding to kicks, forced me into space so small it can only be compared with the area on Ginza street I can afford and also using the blanket of a Japanese person lying nearby. Hope this is the first and the last time in my life I am in bed with a man.
Cheers to all - Ilya


Pictures from the "easy" walk:

Group picture of the easy group

The famous peak of Yarigatake

Cramped accomodation in the hut after the first day

The helicopter that carried Stefan out, and the last picture he took.

MRI scan of Stefan's knee.

To show his gratitude to the rescue people
who took him out, Stefan bought this card.
According to Terry it is a wedding card,
... did he want to marry the pilot?

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