64/365: Climbing Kaimondake

March 5th, 2011 in Daily

Finally. Climbed Kaimondake (開聞岳) this past Saturday. I’ve been there a number of times before, driving around it twice and photographed the Ibusuki area, Ikeda-ko and Unagi-ike. Ah but yes, finally, I can check off Kaimondake, one of Japan’s Hyakumeizan or Top 100 Mountains. I personally think our “Fuji of Satsuma” is the most picturesque mountain in Japan. Settled in the most ideal location at the very end of Kagoshima’s Satsuma Peninsula, this dormant volcano truly deserves it’s name, lit. Opening Gate Mountain.

A quick lunch behind Family Mart, one of the most scenic combini locations in Japan as well

slipping around on colorful reminders of the volcano's history

Looking out over Ibusuki towards Kinko Bay and the Osumi Peninsula

Sakurajima erupting, as viewed from Station 8/9 with Lake Ikeda in the foreground and Kinko Bay fading into the distance.

From one volcano to another.

Now Entering Immortal Mountain Wizard Domain (せんにん, lit. Immortal Mountain Wizard)

I shot quite a bit more on film, which I’ll run to the lab this week. For sure I will not be lugging so much gear up next time I climb Kaimon. I learned my lesson. We started around 12:30 at the first station after walking from the parking lot and open air rec space. So if you did the math there you’ll notice we took quite a casual pace throughout, which almost bit us in the ass on the way down. Leaving the summit at 4PM there was just barely enough light at the end of the descent. I can’t imagine trying to descend on all that loose gravel and rocks without a light or proper boots. Close call. This was by no means an easy hike, but I still highly recommend it! I can’t wait to go back now that I understand the timing and difficulty. Though, from a photographic standpoint, you’ll get better photos from the ground than from the summit. Just something to keep in mind if you have limited time to visit.

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