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Okinawa Climbing


by Emmanuel Lacoste

October 31, 2002

Every parking space as a car parked in it, so we pull off to the side of the road. The scene is pretty much the same every weekend. Men, women, and children of various shapes and sizes check and double-check their gear, before they burden their backs with the heavy load. My wife and son look at me, ďScuba diving is to much work,Ē one of them will usually say. I just agree and load my own back. We follow the next herd towards the water, but when they turn left at the entry point, we continue on. Although the emerald colored ocean appears quite appealing, we came here to climb.

Okinawa has four major climbing areas for visiting climbers: Usa Beach, Zatzun Tunnel, Cape Maeda, Zampa Point, and Gushichan Village. While all these areas offer excellent climbing; you will never wait in line for any of the routes, you see, Okinawa only boast about 100 climbers. This can actually make it quite hard to find a partner, so plan ahead or bring your own.

Usa Beach, located on the north end of the island is home to approximately thirty routes ranging from 5.6 to 5.13, with an average length of twenty meters. The very casual approach to these routes will not warm you up for the steep crimps you will encounter. With few holds offering more than fingertips, you better come here ready to crimp.

Zatzun Tunnel, got its name because of its location near the tunnel, offer about twenty routes ranging from 5.7 to 5.11. Routes here are roughly 15 meters longs and located a stones throw for the ocean. This area has two distinct sides, which makes it easy to follow the shade. Unfortunately the north side is only assessable at low tide. This black colored cliff offers square cut holds, that couldnít be better suited for climbing.

Cape Maeda, Okinawaís most popular diving destination, is home to some superb climbing. The area can be broken into three categories. The first one is Maeda cave. Routes here range from 5.10d to 5.12+. All routes here rain be climb in the rain. The pocketed overhanging walls of the cave provide impel shelter from the rain. If itís not raining make sure to check out both White Wall and Red Wall. Both of these offer technical routes from 5.10 to 5.12 on spectacular limestone.

Zampa Point, is the hard-man area for Okinawa. The steep wall here offers routes from 5.8 to 5.13. Donít let this fool you into thinking you can spend the day here. With only two routes easier than 5.12 your day may end quicker than anticipated. The routes here follow sharp and small crimps on overhanging limestone. Itís not uncommon to be eight to ten meters from the wall when you lower from the anchors here.

Gushichan Village, is located on the south end of the beach near Peace Memorial Park. Routes here are short, hard and sharp. Most people who climb here trade in their rope, and invest in a crash pad. With hundred of great boulder problems itís easy to understand why. Come here on the weekend, and youíre sure to have a spotter for your project.

To climb on Okinawa, you have to keep a few things in mind. Climb static, the rock here is to sharp for the dynamic climbing done elsewhere. Bring water, the heat here is extreme, better yet come in the fall, winter, or spring. Bring all you gear with you, they arenít to many places to buy it once you arrive. Plan some rest days; Okinawa has lots to offer.

Guide Book: Coral With Rope,

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Live To Climb