TIM BUNTING

KIWI YAMABUSHI

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Lessons learned climbing ten mountains

Mt. Atsumi in Atsumi Onsen, a quaint Onsen Hot Spring town in Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture

Today I climbed the tenth mountain on my 100 mountains of Yamagata list, Mt. Fujikura. I am now a tenth through after 7 months, so at this rate I should be finished by 2026. I’m hoping to pick up the pace a bit, I was aiming for a big push during the autumn leaves when it’s much cooler and more pleasant to climb.

What have I learned after ten mountains?

Mountains are a really good escape. Or, as I like to think of it, mountains are where we live, and our daily lives are the unusual part. It’s great to know that in our backyards we can always have some place to explore that also has the advantage of teaching us about ourselves. Climb a mountain, see how you react, learn, then apply what you learn in ‘normal’ life.

Mountains are the perfect testing ground. When you climb a new mountain, you have no idea how much further you have to climb, or what the conditions up ahead will be like. Sometimes you think you don’t have it in you, but you keep pushing on, and then you discover it was nowhere near as hard as your mind lead you to believe.

When you climb a mountain that doesn’t live up to your expectations, it helps you appreciate the mountains until now that you really enjoyed even more.

Similarly, when you find a mountain you love, part of you loves it because in your mind it is better than the mountains that came before.

On a different note, Yamagata has a lot of mountains with a history of nature worship. All of the mountains I’ve climbed have a shrine at the top (mountains are indeed believed themselves to be Kami), and there have been some really cool places I’ve discovered; my favourites being Mt. Arakura, Mt. Atsumi, and Mt. Kyogakura so far.

In more practical terms

I’ve learned a lot about video editing, mainly getting and making sure you keep good footage. The GoPro has been lacklustre, the footage doesn’t look that appealing, but it is still very handy to have. That has honestly been a disappointment, I probably should have gone for the Sony Zv-1 or something which can get better footage. But luckily I have been able to couple that footage with my Sony a6500, and I’m trying to use the a6500 more. I even bought a really handy bag strap quick release clip that I highly recommend.

I also had to invest in much more storage because as you are well aware, 4K footage is huge. This led to one of my other problems in that I had an external hard drive corrupt and now I have two mountains’ worth of video lost, and will have to redo one of them. The other was Gassan, I had the chance to go twice already this year.

In terms of video editing, the footage of climbing Mt. Atsumi has been really easy to put together into a coherent video. I need to make more videos in a similar way. I also think I need to do voiceovers more professionally, rather than using my voice that was recorded on the mountain, actually using my microphone at home and getting professional-sounding voiceovers would be nice.

One amazing or inspirational thing I learned was that I really love waking up early and writing. Over the past month and a half or so I have gotten up early most days (except days when there was a cricket match the night before), and busted out the medium app, which is a really good tool for writing I find. Coupled with a fresh cold brew and milk, I have managed to average one article a week over the past few weeks.

The problem with this has been that I have been neglecting video, and if I were to do an 80-20 analysis (the Pareto principle?), I would be doing things the wrong way round. I definitely need to be doing more video work to build my audience. YouTube I see as a core tenet of audience growth, but I have largely been ignoring that in favour of blog writing. A bit of balance seems necessary.

For the blog, my experiment uploading a spreadsheet to create a website on wix was a complete failure. There are some really stupid limitations that I am just ok lazy to try and bypass. I’m not sure what I’m going to do there, I paid for it already, so might have to think of something else in the meantime to populate the site. I have been using Notion instead, and it is working a charm, although I need to do a much better job of updating it. Perhaps I should use some of the time I have in the morning for it.

Then for gear I think I need, probably some form of trousers dedicated to hiking, as today I was bitten by leaches through my thin socks, and I probably need to use my Yamabushi Tabi rather than my running shoes, to help keep the leaches away. A nice thin long-sleeve shirt to keep the sun off my arms and the Horagai rope off my neck would be really helpful. I also really want a drone, I just can’t justify buying one at the moment.

Where from here? More mountains. More blogs. More videos.

So, ten down, 90 to go!

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Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 

tim@timbunting.com

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