Information about Biwakubosawa (枇杷窪沢)
In October 2015, unable to climb due to a broken wrist, I started to search for unclimbed rock, hoping to renew the experience of bolting Oritatami-iwa (折り畳み岩) in Hōrai (鳳来) on a bigger scale. After spending quite some time looking at maps and satellite pictures, I went off the bitten track checking one by one all the places I had marked in between the town of Kōfu (甲府) and Mizugakiyama (瑞牆山). My research stopped in Biwakubosawa (枇杷窪沢), where I found two nice walls: Coccinelle (Beetle) Rock and Castle Rock (check the map below).
After several month spend brushing moss, removing loose rocks and gluing anchors and bolts, most of it alone, the Coccinelle Rock crag is finished. I didn’t had the time to bolt any route at Castle Rock crag. It has potential for some nice new routes but as I am leaving Japan and don’t have the time, I will let others establishing them and fully equip the crag. If you do, please send me the route information so that I can add them here.
You will find in this article all the useful information of both crags and all the routes to go climbing there. I hope you will enjoy those two crags and will have fun. If you are interested to know more about that little adventure of mine of bolting these crags and routes, I’ll release in the coming month a video about it, so stay tuned.
- Season: from mid-April to beginning of December (the road is closed in winter, see below for details)
- Rock : not sure. I’m not geologist
- Exposition : South-East to South
Well exposed it is not too cold in winter. In the summer the trees provide shadow (except on the upper parts of the 40 meters routes).
When it rains, only the route Tratratra stays dry but if it rains a lot for several days in a row, it will also get wet through seepage . After rain, the top of the 40 meters route dries fast as well as To glue or not to glue, Have a sit and relax and Pokemon hook.
- Nomber of routes : 9 at Coccinelle Rock. Castle Rock remains to be bolted for the ones who are interested. See the details below.
- Some trad, some sports climbing, some easy routes, some hard routes, some short routes, some long routes… there are some for everyone
- 40 meters routes in Japan are pretty rare
- Approach walk is very short
- I build a comfortable bench with rocks
- Only 9 routes
- Access is closed from beginning of December to mid April (see below)
Route list from left to right
- “Jardinage éternel” (Everlasting gardening), sports climb, 5.10c, 40 meters, 16 bolts, mid-route rappel anchor
- “La balade du serpent (The snake’s stroll)”, trad climb (just 2 bolts to protect the start), 5.10d R ?, 42 meters, mid-route rappel anchor
- “Long is the journey”, sports climb, 5.11a, 43 meters, 18 bolts, mid-route rappel anchor
- “To glue or not to glue”, sports climb, 5.11b, 20 meters, 10 bolts
- “Tratratra”, sports climb, 5.11c ?, 16 meters, 6 bolts
- “Have a sit and relax”, sports climb, 5.11c, 20 meters, 11 bolts
- “Pokemon hook”, sports climb, 5.12b, 18 meters, 7 bolts
- “Un petit pas sur la lune” (a small step on the moon), trad climb, 5.9, 18 meters
- “Même quand il pleut” (Even when it rains), trad climb, 5.10c ?, 25 meters
Here are the pictures of the routes taken from different angle (left click to enlarge ; right click+open ling in different tab to download or print the picture)
The 40 meteres routes are equiped with a middle rappels tation ; so it is possible to climb them in different ways. Either
- as a single pitch with a 50m single rope and go down with 2 rappels (FAs have been done that way)
- in two pitches with a 50m single rope and go down with 2 rappels
- in 1 or two pitches with 50m double rope and go down with only 1 rappel
For detailed information about each route of both rocks, please check the below table.
Route by: Matthieu Lienart, Ayako Suzuki (絢子 鈴木)
Except the easy start, the route is quite homogeneous. It is almost possible to rest at every bolt. Hard moves are at, or just above bolts so it is a very safe route.
Route by: Matthieu Lienart
This route is equipped with two bolts to protect the start as there is no trad gear placement. Also as the name suggests, the route snakes/meanders left and right. Watch out not to go off route as there’s no bolt to show you the way. Climb with a Gritstone spirit
Regarding gears, if you climb the route in one pitch you will need 3 sets of cams from #0.1 to #0.5 and one rack from #0.75 to #4 (BD sizes).
Except the dihedral above the second bolt and the final crack, gear placements are limited and fixed because there is no continuous crack per say. Finding the small holes and cracks is key to climb the route safely and if you miss a gear placement or decide to skip one or run out of gear, the next possible placement might not be before 3 to 5 meters. The route having several terrace, running out on long sections without placing any protection is not a good idea as a fall could be pretty ugly. But don’t be scared by this remark. If you read the route properly and place protections in all the existing placements the route is quite safe ; run-out on the easy sections but well protected at the bottom and top crux.
Route by: Matthieu Lienart, Ayako Suzuki (鈴木 絢子), Ken-itchi Aoshima (賢一 青島)
The crux is the start of the route. From the intermediate belay anchor, the level drop to something like 5.7 but it is a nice climb to the top. On the “second pitch”, you can even sit on the terrace to enjoy the view.
Route by: Ken-itchi Aoshima (賢一 青島), Matthieu Lienart
Several holds have been glued in this route. This will surely generate uninteresting arguments ; hence the name of the route as a reference to some famous route and polemic in Smith Rock… It is still a nice route with really nice movements.
The glue was used to secure, on the long term, holds that were doubtful but would not break easily when hammered. Despite the aspect of the route and the glue which might make some skeptical, there is normally no danger.
Don’t escape left to top out the route and climb right under the last bolt (otherwise it’s not 5.11b). The third bolt has been pushed a bit too deep. Use a quickdraw with a thin carabiner head.
Route By: Hirotsugu Yoshinaka (広次 吉仲)
Very nice technical route. The route traverse 3 times, hence the name.
Route by: Ken-itchi Aoshima (賢一 青島), Matthieu Lienart
It’s sad that there is that big ledge in the middle of the route which breaks the rhythm, but despite that, it is still a nice and challenging route. As the name says, have a sit and relax on the ledge because the difficulties start from there.
At the start and above the terrace, I have placed bolts quite close to avoid big fall either on the tree at the base or on the terrace. You might want to skip the 5th and 7th bolt to limit rope drag ; your safety is up to your own judgement.
From the last bolt, avoid climbing on the left. Even if it looks easier it’s not and the rock is of far worse quality than on the right.
Route by: Ken-itchi Aoshima (賢一 青島), Matthieu Lienart
Simply the best route of the crag to my opinion.
The route’s difficulties go from the fifth bolt all the way to the top ; no rest, hard and technical moves. An awesome route. Be warned, the last two bolt are hard to clip. To clip the before last bolt, either you have amazing finger and core power or you find the trick (not obvious at all but so amazing) that would allow you to ease (I didn’t say it makes it easy, just that it ease) clipping the bolt.
Despite the cleaning, the space under the third bolt still has doubtful rocks. Climb on top of the ledge above the second bolt, then traverse right at the third bolt. Don’t try to climb straight up under the third bolt.
Bolts have been placed where the rock quality is best, but sometimes on the side of the line. As such I recommend to extend some of the quickdraws to avoid rope drag, especially on bolts 2, 4, 5 and 6 ; on the second bolt, I even recommend to use an “alpine quickdraw” (sling + 2 carabiners).
Route by: Matthieu Lienart, Ayako Suzuki (鈴木 絢子)
Where will you have the chance to climb such a rock feature? Just for that, the route is worth it.
For protections, I used one #0.1 and about two to three sets of cams from #0.2 to #0.75 (Black Diamond). Eventually #1, #2 cams or #3? might be useful in some places just behind or above the moon-shaped rock. But I preferred using those placements for hand jams and use smaller cams in between. Keep a #0.1 and a #0.2 for the mantle at the end.
Up to the “the moon”, protections placements are limited as there is no continuous crack, but more than enough in the corner. Normally blocs are good and shouldn’t move or break when cams would open on a fall. Judge by yourself. Even if I made a lot of cleaning, it is still possible that a cams pops out from their placements due to remaining dust inside. The route being new, do not hesitate to over protect it.
Route by: Matthieu Lienart
The only real crack of the crag, which goes from, finger jamming at the crux to offwidth size. It’s a all-in-one, what else do you want?
Regarding protections, the route requires a full rack from #0.2 to #6 (BD size) plus some extra doubles for numbers #1 to #3 for the first part of the route (keep a #1 for after the crux). The crux is just above the terrace at the middle of the route. Protect it correctly to avoid a fall on the terrace which could be harmful.
The route is 25 meters long. With a 50 meters rope, tie a knot at the end of the rope so it doesn’t go through the belaying device when lowering the climber and get close to the rock when you finish lowering the climber.
I couldn’t bolt any route there as I was lacking time. It’s all yours if you are interested in establishing new routes. See the map and information below for location and access. If you bolt new routes, please share the information so I can add them here, thank you. Here are some pictures of the face.
Check this article and its video to judge by yourself if the routes have been properly bolted and are safe or not.
- Wear a helmet ; even the belayer! The routes are still new. A big cleaning work was made but it is still possible that some small rocks fall off. As such it is important that the climber and belayer wear an helmet.
- For the same reason, climb with an alpine spirit and do not hesitate to test holds before pulling hard on them.
- Some routes like To glue or not to glue, Have a sit and relax, Pokemon hook, have sections with unstable rocks close to the routes. I cleaned a lot but but there are still risks so avoid getting off route.
- The minimum (but sufficient) for all routes, is a single 50 meters rope. The 40 meters routes have an intermediate belay station to go down in two rappels (see above). The route Même quand il pleut is just 25 meters so be careful when lowering with a 50 meters rope.
- For the trad routes, even if I cleaned the cracks the best I could, they can still be dusty and in this case it is possible that a cam would pop out in case of a fall. Routes being new, avoid committing too much with protection ; on the contrary I would recommend to not hesitate to over protect for the time being.
- Check above specific information of each route
- There are snakes (venomous snakes if I identified them properly) on the very top of the rock and some grassy ledges above the routes. But generally they’ll have run away before you see them.
Access from Tōkyō
The area is accessible by car only. There are three parkings (see the map below) before the forest road gate.
The access road, the crystal line (クリスタルライン) is closed in winter from around the second week of December to mid-April, but exact dates varies from year to year depending on road snow/frost conditions. Check the page below or call the managing office Chūhoku-rinmukankyōjimusho-chisanrindōka (中北林務環境事務所治山林道課 – 施設管理担当) at 0551-23-3863
- crystal line, Mizugakiyama (瑞牆山) and Masutomi-onsen (増富温泉) surroundings roads information web page: http://www.pref.yamanashi.jp/rindoujyouhou/areamap32.php
- crystal line specific road information web page: http://www.pref.yamanashi.jp/rindoujyouhou/kisei.php?id=57
The approach walk is a short 10 to 15 minutes walk. From the forest road gate, follow the road for about 150 meters and go down left to the river at the cairn. Once on the other side (depending on the water level, you might have to take your shoes off and ford the river), the goal is to follow the ridge on the left bank of the small gully in front of you to then walk up diagonally to the cracg (see the GPS trace below). The “trail” is marked by red tape and in some places by branches laid on both sides.
The approach walk is about 30 minutes. Follow the forest trail until the bridge that crosses the river. Then walk straight up the ridge on your right. The crag is the second rock face at the top of the hill.
The 1/25000 map covering Biwakubosawa valley is:
1/25000地形図、瑞牆山、甲府5号-4、 NI-54-31-5-4 (Mizugakiyama, Kōfu 13-4, NI-54-31-5-4)
Location: At the base of Mizugakiyama, 20 minutes by car from the crags’ parking
Opened period: end of April ~ end of November
Web Site: http://xn--v8jc1b4j236t.com/
- nice and flat campground
- not allowed to do campfire outside of barbecue-like fire container
- cooking space with sink and barbecue
- no shower. You have to make a detour by Masutomi-onsen which is the closest hot spring
- pay in the box on the left of the main building if the caretaker is not there
Location: In the village West of Mizugakiyama, less than 30minutes to the crag’s parking
Opened period: all year
Web Site: http://www.gorouya.enjoy-web-jp.com/index.html
- booking mandatory
- personally, if you have to stay somewhere else than the camping, this is the place, and nowhere else, where I would stay
- the atmosphere is nice, it is comfortable, food is very good and owner welcoming and friendly
- this is the best value in the area. You will pay 1100 yen more for twice less comfortable at Mizugaki-sansō for example
Masutomi-onsen is a hot spring “resort”. See below the links to the main hotels web pages.
- Furōkaku (不老閣): http://www.furoukaku.jp/
- Kinsenkaku(金泉閣): http://www.kinsenkaku.com/
- Tsuganerō(津金楼): http://tsuganerou.com/
This is the closest to Biwakubosawa, but for the atmosphere the comfort and price I would still go to Gorōya if I am not camping.
Location: at the path, at the start of the main trail to Kinpuzan (金峰山)
Opened period: mid-june ~ mid-october
Tel/Fax: office 0551-45-0521
Web Site: http://www.mizugaki.burari.biz/
Comments: beyond comparison in terms of comfort and quality with Gorōya and it is more expensive
It is a pension/mountain lodge made for hikers going to Kinpuzan: you are waked up early for an early breakfast and if you are not there to hike, it doesn’t matter.