Awesome video & story by David B, from our Sawa nobori trip last month:

Watch Video: Minami Sawa 1

When I first encountered the Expedition Club at Waseda, I was amazed at their stories of adventure around the world. Their main activity as a club is sawa nobori, best translated as river climbing. A mix between hiking, scrambling, lead and aid climbing, Sawa nobori is what you might call an extreme sport. Considering it’s such a combination of other sports, there’s a lot of knowledge and equipment necessary for a successful expedition, which could last anywhere from one day to several weeks. Because of all of this, it’s a popular sport amongst older, wealthier outdoor adventurers in Japan, which is where the sport originated and has evolved in the past century. There isn’t much information on it available in English, so to remedy that, Sosha has started his own sawa nobori site for videos, information and advice: I knew my only chance to get a taste of it was to tag along with Sosha and his club. My time at Waseda came and went without being able to try sawa nobori, but my story doesn’t end there.

Since I was going back to Tokyo for the slackline competition, Sosha not only offered me a place to stay, but an even more enticing opportunity. If I came a few days early, I could go on a sawa nobori trip with him and two of his kouhai. “Just bring your climbing harness and some waterproof gear and we’ll take care of the rest.” The trip had already been carefully planned and the itinerary was set as required by the official club rules. Clubs in Japan are notoriously strict; Sosha got in trouble from some club alums when he was president and made an executive decision to clean up the infamously messy club room. Traditions are hardwired into Japanese clubs; you don’t mess with the status quo.

Normally, only members were allowed to go on trips organized by the club, so it wasn’t unreasonable to expect my addition to the roster to be rejected. I’m a first-timer and this was a dangerous undertaking; the previous week a freshman broke a finger slipping on a rock and had to finish the hike with his pinky pointing out at a 45 degree angle from the second joint. If something happens there aren’t many options other than tough it out. …Continue reading:

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