The 20th boasted perfect weather--not a cloud in the sky--but a drinking party on the night of the 19th had dissuaded me from thinking about climbing that day. So, our friends arrived on the 20th and we set out the next morning--the 21st. The weather was not as brilliant as it had been the day before, but we were able to stay above the clouds for most of the climb.
Some highlights from the climb:
Just above Ta-no-hara 田の原 (the highest point you can reach by car--about 2200 meters) we encountered this group of Shingon Buddhists chanting as they descended. I have previously met the monk that was leading the group and he explained to me that the red cords that the worshipers wear at their waists symbolize umbilical cords that tie them to their "mother", Ontake-san.
The summit, with ni-no-ike 二の池 (second pond) in the background (Mt. Norikura 乗鞍 and Hotaka-dake 穂高岳 are also back there somewhere).
View of san-no-ike 三の池 (third pond). There are five ponds on Ontake-san, and the third is perhaps the most famous. It's waters are known for their medicinal properties.
This fellow was meditating above the second pond.
I wonder how many years he's been there.
Walking on walking,
under foot earth turns.
Streams and mountains never stay the same.
(from the poem "The Mountain Spirit")