Efinate nailed it. While I might fudge on claim that Encouragement of Climb: Omoide Present is the 'greatest Yama no Susume episode of all time, it outshines most of the work done on this anime project, with one more feature movie coming out this year. A lot of pressure on that project to wind up what has been an outstanding series of ever lengthening short feature/episodes and OVA.
The secret to the enjoyment is understanding what the Japanese term omoide means. Memories. Without this in mind, one would suspect that the twenty-five minute OVA was a recap episode. You might recognize some snippets of past seasons, but that is all interwoven into that concept of dwelling on your memories to review how much growth one gained. This was emphatic in the first portion where Aoi travels through old scenes while moments with a much younger Aoi and her mother travel these same places. The element of recalling memories, good ones, blend well with the music playing in the background. It proves reminiscence can be sweet.
But the final portion, where Hinata sneaks a peek in Aoi's trinket chest and finds a memento from when these two girls who once lived as neighbors in the earliest years, were separated when Hinata's family moved. The clumsily made acorn hairpiece fires up memories of Aoi's acorn ornament which Hinata received, and later lost. Hinata frantically searches for the hopelessly lost knickknack and feels she has betrayed her friend. Until Aoi divulges that the acorn hairpiece had sunk to the bottom of Aoi's chest and just recently been rediscovered and brought to the top.
Four neat short pieces woven together to keep us in touch with those four girls of Encouragement of Climb as they prep for that possible final feature movie. What will it be? A second assault of Fuji? Everest? K2? Ironically, Hinata mentions these peaks as possible goes ... at least for Kaede who just might have trouble getting into the college of her choice.
And, wouldn't you know, I think the animation perked up for this effort, soft pastel tones which underscore the quiet tone. Promises of what could be a smashing resolution later this year.
This was the best episode in the whole series. I really loved how they focused more about their mother daughter relationship. I really loved the soundtrack too and it was quite relaxing too.