Friday, July 14, 2006

Climbing the Sacred Mountain

Flick and I have been talking about climbing Hakusan (White Mountain) in Ishikawa for months and months. Every time we plan to go we find that we're either too busy or that the weather is just too bad. Finally though, we had our chance this week - after a quick check of the weather we found that Tuesday would be an ideal time to go - and probably our last chance before we leave Japan on the 27th. I took some time off work and set the alarm for 4.30am, ready for the long drive to the mountain.
Hakusan is one of the three holiest mountains in Japan, along with Tateyama (3,015m) in Toyama prefecture and Mount Fuji (3,776m), which of course means that thousands and thousands of people climb it every year. We were a little bit worried that we might face a re-run of the dreadful queuing that occurred towards the top of Mount Fuji - hundreds of people caught in a slow, cold, soul-destroying shuffle towards the summit. Luckily though, we encountered very few hikers on the way up - going on a weekday definitely has its advantages. Plus the official climbing season doesn't begin until this weekend, so I think that helped us to miss the big crowds.
I'm so, so glad we were able to climb Hakusan before we left Japan - the view from the top was easily worth the aches and pains the next day! If you get a chance to climb it you should definitely go... and if you're feeling a bit more adventurous, why not try scaling all 20 of the highest peaks in Japan - click here to see the list.
What am I going to do without all these mountains back in the UK? No more snowboarding, no more climbing... That's it, I'm moving to Switzerland.


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