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  • Yuji HirayamaPHOTOGRAPHY: KENJI IIYAMA
  • Yuji HirayamaPHOTOGRAPHY: KENJI IIYAMA

Hirayama Yuji: Professional Free Climber

, 2009/12/10

I first tried rock climbing when I was fifteen- I was out of my element and pretty scared. Somehow, though, I made it up the first time. When I descended, I started up the wall again and realized then that each and every rock face was different. I thought “hey, this is something I can do for the rest of my life and never get tired of it.” Even a small rock like that has an enormous number of faces to encounter. If I could enjoy climbing on such a little rock, I could enjoy climbing anywhere. “Wow, what potential!” I thought.

When I first started I was wholly satisfied with climbing a rock that wasn’t quite six meters high. Now, I challenge myself with overcoming 1000 meter-grade walls “on sight,” which is climbing a rock face for the first time without falling. When I succeeded climbing walls of that scale, I became the first person in the world to do it on sight. Ideally, I complete a climb barehanded. I want to overcome the wall in one movement from start to finish, like a calligrapher completing a character in a single brushstroke.

Even when I climb walls of this scale, I do not feel fear. In my climbs, if I fall even once I am finished, the feeling of fear is not as strong as the determination that I absolutely must finish the climb. If my focus ever slips, I may fall. But the fact is what keeps me vigilant at the same time, pushes me to the limit.

Why do I do this? One reason is that I want to be the first person to have accomplished what I do where I do it. I want to go down in history as having been the person who did what no one else could do. I’m now thirty-five, and I’m reaching the limits of the field, but I feel that I still have the personal potential that has not yet been realized. I want to start from scratch again and set my sights on the next goal. I want to be ready to go at the starting block.

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