Climbing Routes at Saiko Iwa (Juunigatake)
Aspect and Location
Lake Saiko (西湖, "West Lake") is one of the Famous Five Fuji Lakes. Juunigatake (十二ヶ岳, "Number 12 Peak") is one of the hills to the north of the lake. The rock is located on the south slope of the peak, overlooking Saiko. It is also referred to as Washinosu Iwa (鷲巣岩, Eagle's Nest Rock).
The rock is volcanic, and not the best quality, but the bolts are mostly good and the slabby and sunny aspect make for a pleasant venue from autumn to spring. The roads can be affected by snow in winter.
None of the recorded routes requires natural protection, though some wires and small cams might cheer you up on Rebecca, Topaz and Marnie.
The steeper routes left and right of the main slabs are sheltered by trees and may require a wash and brush-up before an ascent.
The routes on the Central and Left Slabs end at the Fabled Cable: a piece of "fixed gear" that has to be seen to be believed!
An alternative topo (in Japanese) may still be here. I have taken the route names from that topo. For routes not named or marked on that topo, I've added my own names following the Hitchcock theme. If you know any better, please get in touch.
- Assuming that you are approaching from the south, from Fuji, follow Route 139 north through Asagirikougen.
- Take a clearly signposted left fork to Saiko (Route 21). This skirts the lake to its north.
- After about 2km, the lake has a prominent bottleneck and you pass the oddly named "Hotel She Who" on the left.
- Just after the bottle neck, the road breaks away from the lake and enters a wooded stretch. You want to take one of the 3 left turns within 100m of each other heading up to the steep hills overlooking the lake. The second one is the best and is directly opposite a small restaurant that allows you to take your dog in. The first one turns just before a hotel (the large brown/orange building) on the left. The third one (in 2014) has a sign for "Cafe Mallow".
- Follow the road for about 150m. If you are on the second road, the tarmac ends with a bridge across a narrow, deep, concreted stream on the right and a new (2014) grey plastic wood holiday home on the left. Turn left and park in the clearing immediately on the right. The first road bends right to hit the clearing. The third road arrives on the opposite side of the bridge and stream, requiring awkward manoeuvering to cross and park.
- So you should be here.
This should take about 20 minutes.
- From the parking area, cross the bridge and follow the track to curve left around a weird (disused?) concrete holiday home/seminar centre/cult headquarters.
- Follow the track as it bends right then narrows and bends back left through some boulders.
- The track widens again (it was an access road for dam construction) and weaves through a series of dams.
- After a couple of huge dams on the left, the track bends sharply left at a dam on the right. Follow a path breaking right around the left edge of the dam and along the stream behind it. This path is festooned with fixed ropes.
- Follow the path as it breaks up the hillside to the base of the rock between Green Forest and Left Slab.
Routes are described from left to right. The first area is left of where the approach meets the rock. The area name came from a time when the routes here tended to be greener than other parts, but a lot of trees around the base were blown down in early 2019, making it much more open.
Starred routes are ones I particularly enjoyed.
Midori no Mori - Green Forest
Hikisakareta Curtain - Torn Curtain 20m 5.11b *
Pulls through the left side of the upper overhang of Dial M for Murder. Low in the grade.
Start above the collapsing section of the path on the left.
Climb up to the left edge of the obvious overhang, stretch to clip from a wonderful jug, pull over with difficulty, then head right to join Dial M for Murder.
Dial M wo Mawase - Dial M for Murder 18m 5.11a
Neat, fingery climbing through two overhangs, with a hard but escapable crux.
Mantel over the first bulge and climb direct to the second. A fierce and technical pull over this leads to an easier face and slab and then a lower-off.
Hitchcock 15m 5.10b *
A good steep pitch squeezed in between the hangs. The start is dirty, but it's worth persevering.
Climb a scruffy short slab to where the angle steepens (peg) and then follow the bolts to a lower-off on the top slab. Crux where the route kinks left.
Harry no Sainan - The Trouble with Harry 18m 5.10d
A stiff proposition based on the sandwiched slab on the right, providing more problems than you might expect!
Pull up scruffy rock (peg) then step right onto the slab. Steep, fingery moves lead onto the top slab and so to the top. Lower off.
Downhill 19m 5.10c *
An intimidating line through the bulges at their widest point. The bottom section is very good.
Start under the big roof and pull out onto the undercut, bulging block. Step up and skirt the roof on its left, then step back right and follow dirty slabs to a lower-off.
Tousou Meiro - Saboteur 19m 5.10b *
The slab on the right, guarded by a small roof and leading to a steep finish. Another very good route.
A technical step up leads to good holds over the roof. Follow the stepped slab above to where the face rears up again and finish steeply diagonally left at a tree. Lower off.
Balkan Choutokkyuu - The Lady Vanishes 43m 5.10b
3m right, a line of ring bolts climbs parallel to Saboteur for 1 pitch, then disappears into trees before re-emerging for a happy denouement.
Likewise, a technical step up leads to good crimps over the roof. Continue direct by awkward moves to a cluster of ring bolts next to a huge pine. Continue to a second cluster higher up on a ledge and belay. Finish up the slab behind the belay. This is dirty at first, but improves and has a neat 5.9-ish crux move to reach the top slab. Be prepared to leave tat and/or krabs behind at both anchors.
Next right is a deep vegetated gully. The next routes climb the long slab to its right. This is named Sagan Slab - Left Slab.
Hokuhokusei ni Shinro wo Tore - North by Northwest 40m 5.10a *
A good climb up the left line of the left section of the slab.
Start directly below an abseil anchor at 10m. Climb to the bolt below this, amble diagonally left above a good ledge with trees (possible belay), then follow a clean direct line through minor bulges to a groove and an anchor on the Fabled Cable. The line gets a bit confusing towards the top, but you're never far from a bolt.
Abseil descent (and extra rope!) recommended. Note that it's 35m abbing straight down.
The next 3 routes climb to the abseil anchor at 10m before branching out. All three are just a bit run-out and get a bit dirty towards the top.
Dorobou Narikin - To Catch a Thief 30m 5.9
The lefthand line is good.
Move 3m left from the anchor then follow the bolts direct to a convenient ledge level with the Fabled Cable.
Giwaku no Kage - Shadow of a Doubt 30m 5.9
The central line is thoroughly Joseph Cotten: Pleasant enough, but not above suspicion.
Follow the bolts direct from the anchor to the convenient ledge. In January 2016, the fourth bolt is missing its hanger and the fifth has been doubled up.
Psycho 30m 5.9
The line up the right edge of the slab looks pretty harmless, but has a dark side.
Step right from the anchor and climb a couple of metres in from the edge of the slab till forced diagonally left to belay on the ledge.
Next right is the broad Chuuou Slab - Main Slab.
Janet Leigh 20m 5.9 *
The leftmost line gives best route on the slab.
Traverse out left across the low-angled bottom slab till just right of the gully (RCC bolt on the left if you want it). Pull up and right for 3 bolts' worth of intricate moves to where the angle eases, then saunter to the Fabled Cable.
Yagiza no Shita ni - Under Capricorn 20m 5.8
The line right of Janet Leigh features some interesting ironware.
Traverse out left as for Janet, but move back right above a bulge and climb up to a shallow corner/flake and then on to the Fabled Cable.
Better than it looks, but the gear's a bit dodgy.
Anthony Perkins 18m 5.10a
The line 4m right of Under Capricorn.
Climb to a peg in the steep lower section of the main slab. Pull through this on side holds (crux) to the main slab, then climb direct to the Fabled Cable.
The McGuffin 18m 5.10a
A similar climb right of Anthony Perkins.
Climb up to the steep band left of a small square overhang. Pull up to the main slab then climb direct to the Fabled Cable.
Norman Bates 20m 5.10c *
A contrived start leads to a lovely slab.
Start under a small square bulge with a bolt in it. Pull directly over this and continue in the same line to the cable.
5.9 if you dodge the start on the right.
Rebecca 15m 5.8
The crack and slab left of the capped corner.
Climb the crack clipping bits of this and that. You could add to this with some small to medium cams. Continue easily but boldly up the top slab to belay on a good tree.
Topaz 15m 5.8
The obvious corner to the right has one piece of gear - a joke peg in the roof. You can place some wires and small cams or reach right into Marnie.
Climb the corner to its end, then pull out slightly left and climb the slab easily but boldly to belay as for Rebecca.
Marnie 15m 5.10b
The thin crack in the slab right of the capped corner. Graded for not touching Topaz. You can back up the fixed gear with wires and small cams.
Climb the crack with a hard move to reach the bulge. Pull over direct, then continue boldly up the slab, finally heading left to the tree of Rebecca.
Round the arete to the right, on Right Wall, strangely enough, the routes get less sun, but only one is particularly dirty.
Family Plot 11m 5.10a
The lefthand line round the arete is short steep and dirty.
Climb past a bolt to a short vegetated groove. Pull into this and climb direct left of a tree to a ledge with 2 bolts and no tat.
Shirisugiteita Otoko - The Man Who Knew Too Much 21m 5.10c
The left edge of the impressive central part of Right Wall. A good route.
Pull out of the gully past a bolt and peg combi, then climb direct to twin bolts with rings. I haven't done the continuation, which looks OK.
Machigaerareta Otoko - The Wrong Man 20m 5.10d *
The central line up the central part of Right Wall. A good, sustained route.
Climb parallel to The Man Who Knew Too Much to twin bolts with rings. Crux at the 2nd and 3rd bolts.
There are 2 old aid routes on disintegrating bolts right of The Wrong Man.
The big slab across the gully from Right Wall is referred to as Pinnacle.
There are bolts all over it, but only one line of note.
Sanjuukyuu Ya - The 39 Steps 45m 5.8
The central line.
Climb the slab opposite Right Wall in two pitches to finish at assorted tat and hardware on a small ledge. You can split the pitches up more if you want.
Take some extra tat in case you're not happy with what's on the ab point. It's also possible to top out by climbing an extra short pitch.
Further right again is a huge bulging tumbledown jumble of blocks bearing traces of past development/lunacy. Well up and right of this is a dirty slab with a steep start that has a couple of old bolt lines. Some new routes were reported further up and right but I couldn't find them and they have since been removed from the original topo.