Sunday, 11 September 2016

Multi-pitch climbing on Jōyama (城山) - "Battlerunner" (バトルランナー)

Route Name:  Battlerunner (バトルランナー)

Mountain: Jōyama ()

Rock type:  Andesitic tuff

Length: 4 pitches (approx. 100m)

Grade: 5.10a

Jōyama () is a small rocky mountain at the top of the Izu peninsula in Shizuoka prefecture, and is a well-known rock-climbing venue with several hundred routes. Sitting across the river from the town of Ōhito, its South face is home to some of its longest and best multi-pitch routes. The rock quality on this slabby face is first-class, and predominantly requires good balance and footwork as you float upwards from small pocket to pocket.

One of the most popular and striking routes at Jōyama is Battlerunner (バトルランナー), a 4-pitch outing that takes a direct line up the middle of the face through the large roof at mid height. With great climbing and plenty of exposure it really is one of the finest routes around at its grade!

Getting there:
If travelling from Tokyo on public transport, the simplest way is to take a shinkansen from Shinagawa (品川) to Mishima (三島), and then change for a local Izu-Hakone-Sunzu train for Ōhito (大仁). From there you can either walk to the trail-head in about half an hour, or take a local taxi.

If travelling from Tokyo by car, head down the Tōmei Expressway (with a convenient Starbucks located at the Ashigara service area south of Mt Fuji), transfer onto the Izu Chuō-do toll road, and stay on as far as Ōhito. Once on local roads in Ōhito, make your way across the Karino river (狩野川) and down to a small car park opposite the trail-head.

From the trail-head a short walk of about 15 minutes will bring you to a signed junction in the trail.

Head right from here up a short scrambly path and you will come out at the bottom of the South face. It’s a good idea to put your helmet on whilst near the base of the rock in case of falling stones from above.

There are a few bolted single pitch routes along the base of the face, and in high season (Oct-May) it can get quite busy.

Battlerunner starts about midway along and heads up towards an overlap just below and to the right of a tree-covered terrace.

Approximate pitch descriptions are as follows:

Pitch 1: Delicate slab climbing with good bolts up to the overlap, then climb the bulge direct and continue up to a semi-hanging bolted belay below the first small roof. (25m 5.8)

Pitch 2: Surmount the first roof then continue up steepening 5.9 slabs to a bolted belay below the large roof. Climb the roof directly by a mix of underclings and crimps, to get established on the wall above. Another 5-6m will bring you to a bolted belay. (35m 5.10a)

Pitch 3: Climb easier but more run-out slabs to a bolted belay below the final pitch. (20m 5.7R)

Pitch 4: Ascend the final delicate and run-out slabs, and anchor just below the tree-covered ledge. (20m 5.9R)

Because of the risk of knocking loose rocks down on the people below, the best way to get down is to rappel straight back down the line of the route rather than attempt to walk/scramble off from the top anchors. This can be done in two rappels with 60m ropes.

Note – The above is a fairly standard way of splitting the pitches, but it is equally possible and maybe even preferable to end pitch 2 at the bolted belay under the roof, and then climb the roof and pitch 3 in one.

With impeccable rock quality, superb balancy slab climbing and powerful moves through the crux roof, this route deserves the three stars it gets in all the Japanese guidebooks! A set of about 10-12 quickdraws will suffice.

The book is out now in print and kindle versions on Amazon.
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