Rotary flag flying high on top of mountain in Japan

Rotarian John Russell in JapanRotarian John Russell in Japan
Rotarian John Russell in Japan
The flag of the Rotary Club of Fareham was flying at the top of the highest mountain on Hokkaido, Japan, thanks to '¨the incredible efforts of a Fareham Rotarian.

John Russell has just returned from Hokkaido on the northern island of Japan as one of eight ski mountaineers from the Eagle Ski Club.

John placed the flag at the top of Mount Asahidake, the highest mountain on Hokkaido, and a volcano with steam fumaroles and strong gusts of sulphur.

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Just before he was able to place the flag, it was snatched from his hands by the wind and John had to chase it down the mountain and jump on it to prevent it blowing away – all while wearing crampons.

John Russell with the Fareham Rotary flag in JapanJohn Russell with the Fareham Rotary flag in Japan
John Russell with the Fareham Rotary flag in Japan

Amazingly this was not the most testing time of the trip.

Previously, the group was forced to build and spend a night in a snowhole when a blizzard and temperatures of minus 20C prevented them reaching safety before nightfall.

However, many hours were spent on the trip warming up in the many wonderful hot springs.

President of the Rotary Club of Fareham, Bob Mussellwhite, said: ‘Our Rotarians have been most impressed by the travels and exploits of our mountaineering colleague John Russell.

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John Russell in JapanJohn Russell in Japan
John Russell in Japan

‘We had no doubt that he would take our club flag to the highest peak and he certainly achieved that.’

John coped with avalanche conditions and blizzards and even had to use his mobile phone at one point – not for phone calls or photos but to provide the light needed to dig the snow hole, with skills learnt from avalanche practices with a lot of team effort.

He said: ‘Once in the snowhole, and with the aid of the phone torch, we were telling stories of past misadventures to help us keep awake.’

Fareham Rotary is actively involved in supporting the local community through Interact, the Wheelhouse and a myriad of charitable events.

For further details on Rotary please see the website at

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