“It’s not a race,” Montbell founder and CEO, Isamu Tatsuno, reminded the participants. Even then, Haidee and I couldn’t help but feel the surge of excitement as our number was called. I handed our timing card to the official, and we set off on the first leg, paddling almost 6km on Lake Chubetsu in our Canadian canoe.
A Sustainable Hokkaido Adventure Tourism
The previous day, I’d been invited to speak at the opening ceremony at the “Environment Symposium”. This was a symposium to showcase interesting things going on in the Hokkaido outdoors, as well as adventure in general. They’d given me a one hour slot, so I spoke about my around the world journey by bicycle and skateboard, and then proceeded to deconstruct adventure as more or less a whimsical, unnecessary lark by the relatively wealthy citizens of wealthy countries. It wasn’t a scathing attack, per se, but more of a reminder that adventure – “[activities that] feature unpredictability and demand some daring and mental and physical skill” – is, at its core, something that we in the developed world generally choose to embark upon (c.f. Beams et al., 2019, p.11), so we need to engage in adventure responsibly – while caring for the environment, ensuring sustainable access, and making sure it’s safely accessible for everyone. I also talked about what Hokkaido has to offer that is unique in the realm of adventure and outdoor pursuits – namely that nature is in control here. Raw, rough, but still having the edge of being in Asia.
Here’s the full presentation slides here: https://hokw.jp/c2sum-presen
After my talk, the founder and CEO of Montbell, Isamu Tatsuno spoke about his climb of the North Face of Montblanc – at the age of 75. He’s also a mean Japanese flute player.
I digress. On race day, I mean paddle/cycle/hike day, Haidee and I did well on the paddling section. Looking at the results, we came in 4th out of 26 team participants – pretty good for being in a Canadian canoe.
The second section, cycling up to the Asahidake Ropeway, we didn’t do so well – we were on our heavy folding touring bikes, whereas almost everyone else was on lightweight road bikes, carrying very little gear.
The hiking section – from the top of the Asahidake Ropeway to the summit of Asahidake – was unfortunately not to the summit. Low cloud and wind scuppered plans for a summit finish, and the organizers wisely limited the climb to the 7th station (70% of the way up).
Once down from the mountain, there was the much-anticipated raffle held at the brand new Asahidake Information Center, with some pretty hefty prizes up for grabs. Haidee won some comfy Yamatune socks, and I won a Gerber multitool.
Many thanks to the Sea To Summit organizers and to Higashikawa Tourism Association for the invite!