1964 /65! – RAF Mountain Rescue in Japan – Jack Baines RIP. The Japanese Alps. 

  • The blog keeps bringing me gems of information and I received this superb email from Val Hamilton is about trips to Japans mountains in 1964/65 by one of the RAF Mountain Rescue finest leaders Jack Baines BEM.  I met Jack many times when he was running Ernest Press in Holyhead North Wales a wonderful mountaineering book company and had retired from the RAF. 

  • He was always a great influence on me and gave me lots of tips advice on North Wales and Mountain Rescue! 

Kamikochi is the crown jewel of the Japanese Alps. The scenic area is a basin at 1500 meters elevation. The Alps rise an additional 1500 meters from there, creating a stunningly magnificent background with the beautiful aquamarine Azusa River in the foreground. This is a very popular place for mountain trekking, and the traditional starting point is Kamikochi’s symbolic bridge, Kappa-bashi. Downriver is Taisho Pond whose waters provide picture-perfect reflections of the Hotaka Range. Upriver is mystical Myojin Pond. Many tourists just come for the day, but one of the best ways to enjoy Kamikochi is to spend the night and take an uncrowded evening or early morning stroll.

Hi Heavy 

We’ve corresponded over the years but not for a while – glad to see from your blog that you are back on good form after your bad patch a while ago.


I have just received some information about a name from the past who I know you met – Jack Baines.


I got to know him through buying secondhand mountaineering books about Japan – we discovered a shared interest in mountaineering in Japan. I only met him once although we exchanged lots of letters (pre-email of course) and I was shocked by his early death. Today I received a fascinating book from a contact in Japan– a transcription (and translation into Japanese) of a Climbers’ Log Book from Kamikochi in the Japanese Alps, specifically for non-Japanese visitors.


The first page I opened was an entry by Jack which gave me quite a shock – I’d actually forgotten the connection. There are in fact two entries:


19 July 1964

Sgt Jack Baines

SAC Frank Ward

SAC Brian Knott

SAC Roy Payn [sic]

“We came to Japan to climb as much as possible and to make up for our exile in Hong Kong. We are all in the Royal Air Force and are members of the RAF Mountain Rescue Team.”

There follows a list of their routes including a long ridge traverse of Yarigatake which he compares to Skye.


2 October 1965

“Once again I have returned to Kamikochi with 3 different companions from the RAF”:

SAC Morpett

SAC Dales

SAC Simon


There is a short trip report and then concludes: “This is most likely my very last time in the Japan Alps as I return in 6 months time to England. I will always remember my two holidays in the Japanese Alps, mainly for the mountain scenery and also for the good hospitality offered by the Japanese people. Thank you.”


Wandering the internet just now, I’ve found a great obituary of Jack in the Alpine Journal


and I am sure the photo is taken on the summit of a Japanese peak.


Passing this on to you mainly out of interest – I know this is the sort of thing that appeals to you. But wonder if you know any of the other names here? 
Can anyone help? 

From Martin Garnett ” Jack Baines. Great guy and team leader. Some of the books he got me when he had his shop in holyhead.”

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Articles, Books, Friends, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

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