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Yuji HIRAYAMA, World Record Holding Rock Climber, on ‘getting maximum results from minimal tools’

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(clapping) Thank you for inviting me to have time with you. Usually I climb on the rocks like four or five days out of the week so it feels strange to be here to speak. Also, it's my first time to make an english presentation so I think it could be hard to understand, but I'll try to explain as much as possible. Okay. This is a thousand meters of a rock wall. This wall, in 1958 three climbers did this route. They spent forty-nine days to climb it. Imagine spending forty-nine days there. They have to live on the mountain. I think they need water, they need food, maybe, they need to go to the bathroom you know. I want to show you what we did in 2008. (3, 2, 1 ... go!) Yup, that's it. In 2008, my partner and I climbed this wall in two hours and thirty-seven minutes. So how did we do it differently? I took only this much of gear and also took only one bottle of water, each of us. Also, we took a double latte power gel with us. I took only this for eating. We finished at eleven o'clock and coming back took one hour to the base of the wall and we had champagne and lunch. So how did we do it differently comparing 1958 and 2008? Basically, we climb with our bare hands. We climb up, like 10 meters. You see the rope hanging in the picture. Like at every ten or fifteen meters, I place one gear. We have many different sizes. and then we place it through the rope and then climb up again with our hands and after maybe ten, fifteen or twenty minutes it depends, but I place another gear. My friend is at the end of my rope and he's also coiling himself. He climbs up and he cleans these gears and continues to climb up more. After ten or fifteen meters, he cleans the gears. So we are sort of like recycling every time. This is one of the reasons why we don't have much gears with us. We also climb up with our bare hands. In this case, sometimes we need climbing gears because the route finishes on a big flake and the next possibility is on the left side of the crack and i have to swing to the other side. You see (finger motion). In this case, I'm hanging on two pieces of gears: One on the top and one with my partner. So we are hanging on the two pieces but mostly, we are using this gear as a protection in case we fall. And falling ... is dangerous. (laughter) We need to avoid it somehow. It's a really simple answer to avoid it. We climb with our bare hands so we have to be strong in the hands. We have to be strong in the body and also in the mind. What's also important is that I'm climbing at the same time with my partner and if he falls, he's going to pull me out and I'm going to fall with him. So it's important to have a good partner. (laughter) My partner, he's a handsome boy and I think I am too. (laughter) Thank you. I think it's important that we trust each other and I think I can do this kind of climbing only with him. I can't imagine climbing with another person. He has good skills. He has good potential of physical condition and he has lots of experience. Once we become good partners and do lots of training and we improve our skill of bare hand climbing, we feel like our hands are like good protectors. I feel that way mostly when I need to climb up 20 meters from the last pieces. If I fall, I'm going to fall like forty to fifty meters but you know, my good protectors are here. I have good confidence. Today, I just want to explain to you that many things that we use... like tools, materials, gears, we use it without thinking. But in my case, not using many gears is more fast and more effective and we can reach our goal easily. That's the difference when one compares when it was done in 1958 to 2008. I try to think about...in this society, how we can remove with my idea but it was very hard for me. I just climb all the time so it's not easy to imagine what will happen. I'll think about how the mountain is. I think it's the same way as thinking that I don't want to bring too many things. I just want to feel lighter and feel free from carrying all the gears. I can climb up quite fast that way and I think that everyone would feel the same way about it too. Do you want to climb up with a big backpack with 100 kilograms? No, yeah? You want to climb in a light condition and just feel like you're flying. I think on the mountain, it's the same way. It's better for training. I practice over and over to feel stronger. My goal is to look at a 8000 meter peak there and start climbing up without taking any gears: Zero grams of gears. I'll get to the summit and come back to have champagne at the base. In my case, I said I climb mostly with just my hands but I think my hands, my body, and my mind, all of these have unlimited possibilities. I'm nearly sure that in my case, it was kind of a dream but I could climb this kind of 1000 meter wall without taking anything: only with my hands. This is the last scene with my partner and I. The best resource in this world; This was the subject for today. I think it's something inside of us within ourselves. If we want to improve and if we want to progress, we can reach incredible goals. Like in my situation, I took only 5 kilograms of gears but I was able to achieve maximum results. Using minimum materials and getting maximum performance with maximum effort. It's what I think is possible and what our potential could produce. Also, I have a good partner with me. I am sure that if you try to do something by yourself, it is not easy even if you have unlimited resources inside of you. If you're together with your partner or with your friend, you will have even more of a possibility to reach your goals as you have many more rich resources to choose from. Okay, that was my first speech in English. Thank you very much. (applause)

Video Details

Duration: 11 minutes and 44 seconds
Country: Japan
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: None
Producer: Virgin Earth & Ansur Pictures
Director: Andrew Malana
Views: 811
Posted by: tedxtokyo on Apr 8, 2010

A talk given in Session 3 "How Can We Use Finite Resources To Propel Ourselves In The Future?" of TEDxTokyo 2009, held on May 22 at National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.

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