If you climb a volcano, there is no absolute safety there October 21 15:28

Ontake on September 27, 2014 suddenly erupted. I climbed Mt. Ontake for the first time for five years from that day. The best view of the sea of ​​clouds, clear and pleasant air. But if an eruption suddenly like that day ... I was scared. (Social Department reporter Maria Kiyoki)

Mt. Ontake that suddenly erupted five years ago

September 27, 2014, five years ago.

Mt. Ontake straddling Nagano and Gifu prefectures erupted suddenly, and 63 climbers were sacrificed. It was Saturday lunch during the autumnal season.

There were many climbers near the top of the mountain, eating lunch and taking pictures of beautiful scenery.

Encounter with a woman who survived the eruption

“The sound of the stone was also amazing. The sound of the stones colliding with each other seemed to fly sideways.

The mountain guide, Sayuri Ogawa, was one of those who climbed Mt. Ontake that day. On that day, I was climbing alone for a preview of the guide.

When Mr. Ogawa was about 500 meters from the crater, an eruption suddenly occurred without any notice. A huge eruption that spreads in front of you. The area became dark in almost an instant. Volcanic gas that sticks to the nose and throat. It was said that it was painful. While the cinders were flying, Ogawa desperately looked for the rocks and managed to protect herself.

“I don't think I can forget the fear of that day. I think I can't climb Mt. Ontake anymore.” (Sayuri Ogawa)

I met Mr. Ogawa in the interview about a few months after the eruption. I couldn't forget Ogawa-san's words.

So that you can climb to the summit again

Five years after that eruption. Mt. Ontake, which has never been near the summit.

Because of the decline in volcanic activity, we have been able to climb to the summit throughout the season from the summer. Just as before the eruption, many climbers came to visit.

“Does everyone know that it ’s not strange to have a sudden eruption?”

Mt. Mitake. Ogawa had a complicated thought.

“Since it is said that it is impossible to predict when an eruption will occur, I don't think that it will not be a sudden eruption like the last time. Nothing has changed in the sense that Mt. Ontake is a volcano.” (Sayuri Ogawa)

The fear of erupting suddenly. How do you protect your life at that time? Mr. Ogawa wanted to convey his experience in the mountains. I thought it was "I mean I was born that day."

What do you tell when you climb Mt.

September 25th. Mr. Ogawa is going to guide climbers who visited Mt. Ontake from Tokushima Prefecture. I was accompanied by an interview.

When you reach the top of the mountain several hundred meters away, you can see the large cinders from the eruption five years ago.

Mr. Ogawa "I think there is a gray stone, but this is a cinder. What would you do if it erupts now?"

Climbers "Well, what should I do?" "Is it okay because I have a helmet?"

Mr. Ogawa: “A helmet will collapse in no time if a big stone flies. Find a big rock and immediately hide your head and body to protect yourself.”

Climbers who listen to Ogawa and change their facial expressions. I actually tried hiding in the rock.

Then we came a little further to the summit. This is a place where many climbers ate lunch while looking at the scenery five years ago.

Now, shelter is installed as one of the safety measures. Large enough for 90 people. Climbers who saw the shelter said, “If you have a shelter, you will feel safe.” But Mr. Ogawa talked.

“Yes, there is a shelter that is very“ safe ”but not“ safe ”. Even if an eruption occurs, this shelter does not automatically protect us. If you can't act inside the shelter, it ’s like you do n’t have a shelter. ”(Sayuri Ogawa)

"I am safe but not safe"

The words of Ogawa who experienced the eruption resonated strongly with the climber's heart.

“I never thought that the volcano was so dangerous” (climber)
“If I felt it was dangerous, I thought I had to judge and act in the end” (climber)

“Even if you do n’t speak the word about climbing mountains, you can understand it. But I do n’t know what the dangers of the volcano are. I think it ’s my role. I know the dangers. If you climb, you may be able to protect yourself in the unlikely event that it is not 100% safe, so I think how much effort you can make to get close to 100% "(Sayuri Ogawa)

Isn't it safe to climb to the summit? There may be many people who think so, but in fact it is not.

Volcano is not absolutely safe

An eruption alert level that the Meteorological Agency shows the risk of volcanoes in five stages. The lowest level 1 volcano is 43 nationwide from Hokkaido to Kyushu (as of October 21, 2019).

It was level 1 when Mt. Ontake erupted five years ago. Kusatsu Shirane, which erupted last year, and Mt. Asama, which erupted in August, are level 1. The country is focusing on countermeasures such as strengthening the observation system of volcanoes, but the prediction technology has its limits.

“If there is even a slight risk of an eruption, shouldn't it be possible not to enter the mountain trail?”

I have never thought about climbing so far. However, when I interviewed, I learned that there are circumstances that are not so easy.

Between disaster prevention and tourism ...

We headed for Unzendake on the Shimabara Peninsula in Nagasaki Prefecture. In 1991, a large pyroclastic flow occurred and 43 people were sacrificed. However, what is worrisome locally is an eruption that occurs suddenly even on a small scale like Mt. Ontake rather than a large-scale eruption.

A mountain trail near the summit of Unzendake. Many are included in the “area where craters are expected” when erupted. It indicates that an eruption may occur in the immediate vicinity of the climber. Even a small eruption can be caught.

“Can you keep it out of the trail?”

I questioned the staff of Nagasaki Prefecture who is in charge of disaster prevention at Unzendake. Then, it was the keen feeling of the local government with the volcano that returned.

“There are about 30,000 climbers a year at Unzendake, and it is a major pillar of local tourism. Given this, it is difficult to close the mountain trail normally. "Sightseeing" will decline. If you put your effort into "sightseeing", there will be a part where "disaster prevention" will be neglected and dangerous. The balance is the most difficult part. " Person in charge)

There are many hot springs and sightseeing spots around the volcano. I thought this was a common issue and difficulty that we faced all over Japan.

"Effort to inform" and "effort to know" risks

Both disaster prevention and tourism. What Nagasaki Prefecture took was to inform climbers that “Unzendake is at risk of sudden eruption”.

“Climbing road disaster prevention map” created by Nagasaki Prefecture. Even level 1 conveys the risk of a sudden eruption. And if you encounter an eruption, the location of the rock shades and wind holes on the mountain trail is also included so that you can protect yourself. If the risks are known in advance, climbers can make the “choice to not climb volcanoes”.

The local government should “make an effort to inform in advance” the risk of an eruption. On the other hand, climbers felt again that it was important to “make an effort to know in advance” the risks of the volcano that they were approaching.

The summit of beautiful Mt. Ontake

“That day, even before the eruption, it was such a gentle summit.”

Next to me who climbed the summit of Mt. Ontake, Mr. Sayuri Ogawa tweeted. At that time, climbers stayed on top of the mountain in front of the best scenery, taking pictures and relieving fatigue. If I suddenly erupted like that day ... I was scared. At the same time, I strongly felt that I should not forget this fear.

Social department reporter Maria Kiyaki