2019 Daisetsu Asahidake Sea To Summit

Posted on Oct 1, 2019
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Posted on Oct 1, 2019

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Reading time: 4 min
Every year, Montbell, Higashikawa Town, and a host of other companies and organizations work together to hold a unique adventure event in the Dasietsuzan National Park. The Daisetsu Asahidake Sea To Summit is a paddling, cycling, and hiking event that has participants kayak Lake Chubetsu (忠別湖, 6km), cycle up to the Asahidake ropeway (15km, 700m ascent), and hike to the summit of Asahidake (旭岳, 2291m), Hokkaido's highest peak. We took part in this year's event (2019), and enjoyed the camaraderie and varied challenge of the route.

“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.

Image by Sea To Summit 2019

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!

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