Yatsugatake (八ヶ岳), Sekisonryō (石尊稜) ridge
For the second day of my first alpine climbing trip of the season and the year, the objective was to climb the Sekisonryō (石尊稜) ridge. We left camp very early at about 5 AM. Here again, and especially for that route (or maybe we are just idiots and don’t know how to read the explanations on the topo), finding the risge and the start of the route was the crux. But this time it was a real one and we really struggled with it. It took us about 3 hours and seeing another rope party on the ridge to find it. To the point that we might have spent more time to find the route than to climb it. I hope the GPS trace/map below will help you, because the topo’s description is not clear at all to my opinion.
Once we found the correct ridge, we arrived quickly at the base of the first rock face, about 30 meters high and which is the climbing crux of the route.
Once we passed this first difficulty, the route follows a snow ridge, sometime steep, sometimes narrow that we simul-climbed, sometimes putting intermediate protections between us on trees to reach the second rock climb of the route. That one is easier with good steps and shorter than the first one.
Once passed behind the rock, a short gully leads to the exit slope. With rocks everywhere around, it has a good alpine atmosphere and makes a nice exit for the route.
Compared to Amidadake North ridge (amidadake-hokuryō, 阿弥陀岳北稜), I found the route nicer and more interesting. The “rock climbing” sections are longer and a little bit more difficult ; the snow ridge is a bit steeper and the exist, while still being easy, has a good alpine feel to it. It remains a beginners route, but more alpine and committing than Amidadake North ridge.
Useful maps are:
1/25000地形図、 八ヶ岳四部、甲府9号-3、NI-54-31-9-3 (Yatsugatake-Nishibu, Kōfu 9-3, NI-54-31-9-3)
1/25000地形図、 八ヶ岳東部、甲府9号-1、NI-54-31-12-3 (Yatsugatake-Higashibu, Kōfu 9-1, NI-54-31-12-3)
or the 1/50000 map: 山と高原地図 八ヶ岳（蓼科・美ヶ原・霧ヶ峰）, Yama-to-Kōgen-chizu, Yatsugatake (Tateshina – Utsukushigahara – Kirigamine)
GPX file GPS: yatsugatake-sekisonryo.gpx.
The first rock face is equipped with a belay station at the base and protected in the lower part with expansion bolts. There are some intermediary belay station which I didn’t understood the need for, as the height is only about 30 meters. The upper part is grassy and harder to protect on trees as for the belay station.
The second rock face is also “equipped” by an old belay station at the base but not the climb. But the climb is very easy. It is possible to put a not-so-good sling around a block half way or use and old rusty piton just above. The belay is also done using a sling/rope around a rock at the top.
The ridge and the steep slopes are not so hard. If it’s possible to setup belays on trees, it will be much more effective and faster to simul-climb and put protections on trees in between the leader and second when needed by using slings around trees.
The exit slope can’t be protected and is either climbed short-roped or by doing a belay using slings around a rock somewhere.
To go down use the Jizō-one ridge (地蔵尾根) trail.
Information about Yatsugatake range and Tateshina
The route topo is available in the book チャレンジ！アルパインクライミング（八ヶ岳・南アルプス・谷川岳編） – Challenge! Alpine Climbing (Yatsugatake, Mianmi-Alps, Tanigawadake area) - ISBN-13: 978-4808307936
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