Thursday, September 05, 2013

Safety Japan

Just had another few days in the mountains, on the famous route from Kamikochi, over Hotakadake and along the Daikiretto ridge to Yarigatake. We'd be planning to do the Jounen-Yari horseshoe in reverse, but at this point, the wind and rain started up, so the next day we quickly ran down the mountain and back home.

The walk is one of the most adventurous in Japan, with the Daikiretto ridge in particular coming in for a lot of hype (eg), but really so long as you have a decent head for heights and are capable of a bit of scrambling there's nothing very technical and lots of chains and fixed ladders on the difficult bits. We've met people including both young children and their elderly grandparents on it. 

More pics to come, but in the meantime, we were both puzzled and amused by the changing trends in mountain gear. This time, lots of people were wearing climbing helmets, and (presumably not coincidentally) the huts all had helmets available to rent or buy, advertised by posters with "a helmet saved my life" stories. I assume that it's the latest thing to sell to walkers who are by now running out of kit to spend their money on. There was also a map up showing last year's accidents across the region, which apparently consisted of 70 incidents (blue) and a total of 9 deaths (red). Three of these are clustered on the Daikiretto itself, and there are certainly places where a fall could be serious (click for bigger version of pic). 

For the first time, we also encountered several groups of people who were actually roped together while walking along the path (not even on the Daikiretto itself). When I passed this heavily kitted-up group below, I initially assumed they had completed some proper rock climb up to the ridge, but then they proceded to use ther harnesses, slings and carabiners to dutifully clip themselves on to each section of the fixed chain on the left before walking along clinging grimly onto it. After she had taken the photo, jules sauntered up the slab past them.


Howard said...

Your racism is more subtle than the link you provide as you have given yourself prenty of prausibre deniabirity.


David Young said...

I also found that roping up too early just slows progress. Anyway, some of the most exciting episodes happened to me when on the approach especially when its raining and things are slippery.

Paul S said...

Reminds me of some videos I saw at the weekend of climbing spots on the other side of your pond:

Hank Roberts said...


James Annan said...

Yes, Japan has a pretty dreadful history of industrial injury and denial - Minamata is perhaps the most notorious, see Fukushima for a modern version. I'd heard a little about the asbestos problem.

Closer to home, an Nth-hand story concerns someone who was injured while at work, and rather than adhering to the official policy, they were basically asked by their boss to not trouble the admin, and instead "work at home" until they recovered.