Japan has for several years seen growing interest in alpine trekking and rock climbing among young women, but a growing number are starting to pick up axes to tackle the more dangerous and demanding sport of ice climbing.

Among them is Miyuki Yamamura, 30, who in early March with two friends took part in an ice climbing event for beginners at a site on Mount Yatsugatake in Nagano Prefecture.

Ice climbing used to be the preserve of expert climbers, because frozen falls and other challenging ice wall terrains are too formidable for the less-experienced. However, the recent advent of artificial ice walls has made the sport more widely accessible.