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Valley where no birds fly

Valley where no birds fly

Takidani is the valley into which flows the Kamata Migimatadani River, and is located between the Daikiretto Ridge and Karasawadake West Ridge.
Kuzo Fujiki, one of the first ascentionists of this area, used the word “Takidani” in his essay named “Gaku no Yuuwaku” (Temptation of Mountains) and this is the origin of “Takidani” as the rock climbing destination.

Takidani consists of the rock wall and the rocky ridge which falls away to the Hida side from the main Hotaka Ridge, at an elevation of around 3,000 meters, and is located on the west side of the Kitahotaka-dake.

There are many ridges including number ridges (from the 1st to the 5th) protruding from the Kitahotaka-dake north peak, Crack Ridge and Central Arete Dome. There are also couloirs (named A ? F) such that they seem to be cutting through the rough ridges.

The history of climbing in Takidani began in August of 1925. Fujiki’s party and a party from the Waseda University Mountaineering Club started to climb at the same period. Fujiki’s party started from Odaki through the A couloir and then to Daikiretto.

The party from Waseda University, on the other hand, started from Odaki through the D couloir and reached Karasawa Col. So the two parties took different routes.

After that, all main ridges were climbed during the next seven years. In 1932, a party from Waseda Universitsy succeeded in climbing Daini Ridge (#2) and Daisan Ridge (#3) during the winter season for the first time. The boom of mountaineering after the success in climbing Mt. Manaslu by Japanese in 1956, also helped mountaineering clubs come to Takidani to establish many routes in the 50s. In the 80s, the routes that had been aid-climbed were mostly free-climbed as natural progression.

When you talk about such history of mountaineering, we can’t forget to mention Kitahotaka Hut. In 1948, the late master of this hut Yoshiharu Koyama carried building materials and constructed Kitahotaka Hut directly under the north peak. The reason why he did was that he wanted to climb Takidani. He also thought that this hut could save the lives of some climbers who might experience an accident. He also climbed Takidani very often one of which might have been the first ascents but we never know.

By the way, the person who coined the expression about Takidani as “the valley where is no birds fly” for its harshness was Kamonji Kamijo. He was a hunter and mountain guide who was active in the first era of modern mountaineering.
It is said that in 1909, long before Takidani was first climbed, Kamonji did Daikiretto crossing for the first time and referred to Takidani as a place where “no birds fly” and it became the household name for Takidani.

The rock quality here is originally fragile and as a result, there are also routes that have collapsed due to multiple earthquakes. In the summer season the approach is a climb down through rocky and dangerous gullies. The need to avoid the risk of falling rocks and readiness to act swiftly is required. Perhaps it is due to these circumstances that the routes have been limited to small numbers of climbers in recent years.

Notwithstanding, Takidani remains a major area in the history of mountaineering in Japan, and there is no other place where you can find the atmosphere unique to Takidani along with stunning alpine scenery. This is why Takidani continues to attract climbers. Recently more and more try to climb Takidani in a single push, during the winter season.
Sumiko Kashiwa
Translation by Marie Hartmann, Naoyuki Kato