All but the highest peaks have now lost their white caps, as temperatures in Fukui rise steadily. This week saw highs of 27C with most days feeling like a good English summer day, and it's hard to believe that just over a month ago there was a foot of snow on the ground. A couple of weeks ago the backcountry trio consisting of me, the American Brandon, and our local Japanese mountain man Yasu took to a mountain in the south of Ono called Ginampo.
My illusions of the majestically sounding name of this mountain were shattered when Yasu explained to us that Ginampo was a type of nut that was to be found growing in the area, so the name roughly translates as "Peanut Mountain".
As with the last trip to Kyogadake mountain (see April 2005 archives),
we started the ascent on a logging road before taking to the steeper slopes. Yasu climbs this mountain every spring, and told us that this year we were a little later than usual, as you can normally ski all the way back to the cars. Instead, it took us a good half hour to reach consistent snow.
This was the second time that Brandon and I had climbed this mountain. Back in November, we had come up to scope out the backcountry potential after the tip off from Yasu, so here we were fulfilling our own prophecy.
Although we were carrying snow shoes with us, the spring snow was solid enough not to require the use of them. Some of you may be pleased to hear that Yasu now has some new snow shoes. Perhaps he felt his old ones were a little too heavy weight, so he now has some even lighter weight bamboo framed shoes, that look like they were made from twigs.
We slowly hiked in and around trees, along and up ridges, and over streams, before summiting at 1441m some three hours later on a flat and open peak that resembled an Antarctic landscape. Again blessed with a blue bird day, we admired the views from the top as Yasu cracked a celebratory beer and we ate lunch.
The ride down was great, and reminded me how much I miss being on a board. A wide treeless chute was our route back down to earth, and carefully avoiding the occasional rock and stream we fired down the slope, enjoying the warm sun on our faces and spring snow at our feet. We all agreed that in deep powder this slope would be amazing, so I hope to be back next winter to throw up a spray.
We have one last trip planned before the snow disappears for good - and that is to the mighty mountain of Haku San, one of the most famous in Japan. Conditions permitting, we will be tackling this beast in a couple of weeks time, so stayed tuned for the next installment of Backcountry Boarding, Japan.
Coming soon on thefunkydrummer - the infamous Japanese porn vending machines.