This was a great event, full of life, energy, good climbers (strong!) and a great sporting attitude. One of the very best things about climbing for me are the great people I get to meet around the world. The Japan Cup was full of positive energy, psyche and love for the sport. It's not easy to be an ice climber in Japan; if you live in Tokyo you're driving for at least three hours to reach ice, and more likely five or so. The ice on Hokkaido is reportedly easier to reach, but still not "easy." To be a Japanese ice climber is to truly love the game of ice climbing.
In brief, the comp is held on 40-foot tall scaffolding built around the remnants of an old charcoal factory. It was a warm year, but there was still enough ice to get the job done, and the wall was massive and very well-built. The village, Kuni, is really supportive of the event and the structure. It's a bit like a Japanese version of Ouray--there's even a really nice hot spring!
I'm still jet-lagged after the short trip, but very happy to have been involved with such a great event. I set routes, taught a huge clinic and gave a show, but mainly came back with a strong appreciation for Japanese climbers. I am FOR SURE going back, thanks very much to everyone who helped me so graciously. Fantastic! I'm going to write an article about the event and will post a link when that's up.
A friend sent me this link. Insane. Totally insane.
The bags are now packed for the long drive north and west to the super-secret BC rig... Drive 12 hours, fly in, climb. I can't wait to get there and see if it's frozen up a bit more! More on that later, like in a week when we get out...
Play safe enough,