Until a while ago, I could not imagine myself climbing a mountain. And yet, now I often catch my mind drifting, thinking about mountains, looking at the photos taken on a recent ascent, thinking about the next mountain, or when I think it would be such a great day to climb a certain mountain, I research weather and routes —even if I can’t go. I love the view from the window during a late-night drive from my home to the trailhead, and how, as I leave the dark city behind, the colors of the mountain become more vibrant.

What started all this? My son had a school camping trip to go mountain climbing so we went to buy him proper shoes—which got me envious. I lightly told a friend who was already into mountain climbing that I wanted to go too—to which I was informed, “you hate losing so you can probably climb.” What did that mean, that I could climb because I hated to lose?—I remember being inspired by those words as well. (So I guess I do hate losing.) And so this was the beginning—because I had planned a climb with my son, and I wanted to get a good wear out of my first pair of climbing shoes.

I climbed Mount Yari at the end of July. I could feel my body getting tired but my soul was becoming rejuvenated. How do we not realize that being in the city makes us suck at breathing and that it’s bad? In the mountains, we can take deep, deep breaths. Renewed circulation takes place within my body, as drinking water seeps and fulfills, and the palms of my hands and the back of my feet are in dialogue with the soil and rocks. The loudest yell forced from my lungs echoes into the mountains on the other side. Mount Yari has always been a major presence, so I purchased a new pair of sunglasses for this occasion. However, out of habit, I had hooked it on the front of my shirt after I took it off before dunking my head in the river water and it splash landed and the new pair disappeared with the gush of water. But more than anything, my heart was full of joy because the water tasted amazing, and in comparison losing the pair was not a big deal (even though it was not cheap).

Returning to the city, I think happily about the next mountain and skiing in the winter. So I do need sunglasses. Must buy them again, and maybe I can purchase my next buddy from this brand—Sweet Protection.

Established in Norway, this company manufactures protective helmets and eyewear like goggles for skiing and snowboarding. Reading about the history of the company on its website, I find out that before the brand was launched, the first products they had made were skateboards and a secret skate ramp—and it clicks. Perhaps it’s because I also have a little skater in my house. I immediately got in touch with Endo-san at Sputnik, who had taken me to Mt. Yari. Sputnik is an importing company that specializes in outdoor brands from overseas such as Sweet Protection which Endo-san encountered on his travels around the world.

Endo-san single-handedly lugged five people’s worth of meal supplies and cooking utensils to open a restaurant atop a mountain. (The menu was wide-ranging—from a real deal Chinese hot pot that ended with shrimp soba noodles on one day, and another starting with appetizers that led to penne arrabbiata and then to porcini risotto.) He is a master of the mountains and our trusty chief leader. This company makes goggles so their lens is all high quality, says Endo-san. My eyes don’t do so well with the sun’s rays and when it’s too bright they tear up. The sun’s rays up in the mountains are stronger than those in the city so sunglasses are a necessity. Products made for the outdoors tend to be in flashy colors but black is my go-to color even in the mountains. On another occasion, I had the chance to try the sunglasses on a beach under the glaring sun. Looking up while wearing the Heat model with its silver mirror lens, I was able to keep my eyes open and look up at the sky, just as I’ve always wanted to.

My first trip with my new sweet buddy was to the beach at the end of summer. I can’t wait to take you to the mountains in the fall. And to hit the slopes in the winter. I know I can depend on you on our sunny drives. I have a feeling we’ll be taking lots of trips together.

Sunglasses <Heat Rig Reflect Matte Black – Rig Obsidian Lens> ¥19,800(Sweet Protection/Sputnik)

Written & Photographed by Yuriko E