Saturday, 31 January 2009

Futagoyama, Central arête (二子山中央稜)

Route Name:  Central arête (中央稜 Chuō-ryo)

Mountain:  Futagoyama (二子山)

Map sheet:  25 [Yama-to-kougen-chizu (山と高原地図) series]

Length:  7 pitches

Time:  2-3 hours

Grade:  5.9+ / A0


Getting there:
Futagoyama is in the Chichibu mountains, about half an hour’s drive from Chichibu (秩父town centre along Route 299. Stay on Route 299 until it ascends up towards the pass between Futagoyama and Mt Ryogami (両神山), and then turn right onto a mountain road, or rindou.


Follow this rindou up, through a tunnel, and around the back of the mountain until you come across a wooden trail sign on the left just before a small lay-by on your right. From the small lay-by head up the hiking trail for about 5-10 minutes and you will reach a junction in the trail on the pass between the east and west summits, with this sign board.


Close-up of sign board:

Continue straight ahead and follow the trail down the other side of this pass for several zig-zags, then take the trail on your right which skirts along under the rock face.

The central arête starts near a large red metal barrel.


Description:


There are two alternatives for the first half of the route:

A
A single full rope length of 5.7 is followed by a brief and easy traverse to a wide ledge with plentiful options for belays (trees, rocks).

B
Pitch 1: From behind the red barrel, ascend the line of weakness up the face for about 15m, then climb the crack and traverse up and right for 5-10m to a bolt belay at a small terrace. (25m 5.8)

Pitch 2: Climb the line of bolts up the rib of rock, make a short hand traverse of a couple of metres, then belay on bolts at the foot of the triangular flake pitch. (25m 5.8)


Looking down Pitch 2 to the small terrace:

Pitch 3: Climb up to the flake, get established on it and then climb its right edge. From the top of the flake make a tricky move with high feet to gain the wall and the thin crack system in the corner. This is the crux move, and can be easily done A0 if necessary. Follow this crack up to the wide terrace and belay. (30m 5.9+ / A0)





From the wide terrace belay, the route continues with regular bolts on solid good quality rock for 4 pitches to the top (5.8/5.9/5.7/5.6). The climbing is soft at the grade, but always enjoyable, and as you progress upwards the exposure increases. Each pitch is no more than 25m, so they can be joined together into two long pitches if you prefer. The final anchor at the top is a stainless steel rappel ring. There are magnificent views of the surrounding area and across to Mt Ryogami.

Pitch 4:




The hiking trail provides a fast and easy descent, although be aware that all the chains have been removed to return Futagoyama to a climbers' mountain.  The hiking trail is now a scramble, with some exposure, but is well-featured and there are bolts in place if you feel you need protection.

If you choose to rappel the route, be careful not to get the ropes stuck in a groove near the top of the second rappel.  The route could be rappelled on a single rope, but 50m rappels will make things a lot faster.  3 x 50m rappels will take you back to the wide ledge, from where it is a quick hop across the traverse, and then one more 50m rappel from a sling around the tree at the top of the 5.7 start pitch.



Overall:
A quality 7-pitch route with great exposure at a straightforward difficulty level, with in-situ protection.  Take a full rack of quickdraws and a small trad rack along.  A highly recommended day out.



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