My heart still racing from my death-defying first climb, I practically ran to the next waterfall. The second one was much higher than the first, and the guys decided it was best to rope up for this one. Sosha took the lead and set the anchor at the top. It had been a while since I last used an ascender, but it was really just for extra safety, as this waterfall was
much taller and higher volume than the previous one. When I got to the top, I asked Sosha to leave in the anchor so I could belay myself down to the lip of the fall for a better view. It was worth the few extra minutes to be able to stand on the precipice of a large waterfall and take it all in. Two climbs in, the trip had already paid for itself in terms of awesome experiences.
The amazing thing about this hike was that we were able to climb all nine of the waterfalls on the river, mostly without a rope. Usually it’s necessary to have to hike around a few of the falls; in fact, one of the falls we climbed that day was marked as unclimbable, but Sosha figures that must be in the high season when way more water is flowing.
Practically every waterfall was just as fun as the first ones, even if they weren’t all as scary. The beauty around us and the cold water rushing over our feet was almost enough to make me forget how much those undersized sawa tabi were cramping my toes. About 3 or 4 hours in, we finally approached the last major waterfall of the course, and the tallest of the bunch at 30 meters from top to bottom. The fall was stepped so it wasn’t just one big waterfall, but it was impressive nonetheless. It was especially impressive when I was climbing up the side and kept looking down to give the headcam a shot of the fall. We took a quick lunch break after the fall and continued upstream to where the water slowly dwindled down to a trickle and gave way to a mostly dry riverbed. Without the constant flow of cold water over my feet, this part of the hike was easily the harshest, turning into a steep uphill battle with small uncomfortable footing. The very end of the climb was probably the scariest part of the entire course: a steep, slippery slab with bad footing and chossy handholds that broke off more often than not. I looked down after nearly slipping; the fall probably wouldn’t kill me, but I would probably break a few bones tumbling back down into the dry riverbed. Stupid slab.
With some slow persistence, we finally reached our goal, the summit of Kashiyama. A well-worn hiking trail switchbacked all the way back down to where we parked, making for a relatively easy descent. I strapped the headcam on for one last go and ran through the forest. There was a lovely onsen waiting for us at the bottom of the mountain, and I was in a hurry to get out of those damn shoes!
Watch Video: Minami Sawa Adventure 2