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Tag: Autumn (page 1 of 2)

Yarigatake to Yaridaira – Hiking the Kita Alps Part 2

This post is the 2nd out of 3 about traversing the Japanese Northern Alps (北アルプス). Henceforth, I will describe the treck from Yarigatake (槍ヶ岳) to Yaridaira (槍平小屋). For part 1 from Kamikochi (上高地) to Yarigatake (槍ヶ岳) klick here.


We started off at the camping ground on Yarigatake (槍ヶ岳), so of course we had to get up early to see the sunrise from the top of the mountain. As the caming ground is around 100m below the actual summit, we had to get up a bit earlier than sunset. The night was a little bit rough as it was very windy so the tent was really loud. Also as it was a tunnel type tent it could only be pitched in one direction due to the small camping space, which ment that the wind pressed into the sides of the tent. Hint: bring earplugs if sleeping is difficult for you when it’s loud!

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Kamikochi to Yarigatake – Hiking in the Kita Alps Part 1

This post is part one of three (two, three) on a four day trip across the Kita Alps in Japan from Kamikochi (上高地) to Shinhotaka Onsen (穂高温泉). We did the trip in September of 2017. The main objective was to climb Mt Yarigatake (槍ヶ岳) with the possibility of doing the Yari-Hotaka traverse, should the conditions permit. We packed food for four days, however as there were several huts on the way if needed be that could’ve been streched to a longer period of time.

The plan was initially to arrive around midday in Hirayu Onsen (平湯温泉) by car, prepare our backpacks, park the car, and then take the public bus (Nohi Bus) into the Kamikochi National Park (上高地国立公園). That is because you’re not allowed to drive your own car into the National Park. However, after several delays we arrived significantly later than planned at Hirayu Onsen (平湯温泉) and were a little bit stressed out packing our backpacks. We barely caught the last bus which left at 4:50 p.m. from the Akandana Parking Lot (あかんだな駐車場) where we left our car. Immediately, we realised that we forgot some important items, namely our hiking poles and the tripod for the camera. Some non-essential but nice to have items were also still in the car, so on a whim we decided to exit the bus at the next stop down in the city centre of Hirayu Onsen (平湯温泉). Unfortunately, the car park is quite a bit away from the city centre so we had to walk all the way back up on the road which took around 20 minutes. After arriving, we once again packed our backpacks up and called a taxi to drive us into Kamikochi (上高地). While we had a to pay an extra late-evening fee, the taxi was not that expensive at all compared to the bus fare (7000 JPY for two people). As we wanted to leave towards Yarigatake (槍ヶ岳) early the next morning, taking the taxi was the only viable option. Important to note is (what we didn’t know until the taxi driver told us), that the gates to the Kamikochi National Park (上高地国立公園) close every day at 7 p.m., after which even taxis can’t get in any more.

Kappabashi in Kamikochi

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A road trip to Cape Kamui – Shakotan

Once more a post about a trip from a while back!
A friend visited me in Hokkaido and we went on a trip around the Shakotan peninsula, just north-west of Sapporo. While Shakotan can be accessed by Bus, it is a whole lot more convenient by car especially in Autumn/Winter as the Bus service is very limited.

We stopped by in Otaru and its Habour to have some Sushi and rent a car..

Otaru

And off we went! Shakotan has a lot of mountains – or rather hills. Therefore, there are an astonishing amount of tunnels, some of which are a few kilometeres long. I am always wondering about the viability of building and maintaining those tunnels – it probably does not pay off, considering that Shakotan has a population of only 2500 people. But fortunately Countries are not entirely for profit entities – yet…

Shakotan

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A visit to Sapporo’s Moerenuma Park

A couple of weeks ago I visited the Moerenuma Park on the outskirts of Sapporo. However, I put off writing about it until now, that the snow has started falling in Sapporo. The Moerenuma Park was designed by Isamu Noguchi who was a famous Japanese American landscape architect.

At the entrance of the park, you can rent bikes for little money (about 200Yen for 2h) which I recommend, as the park is huge. Upon entering the park, which is free, a large glass pyramid greets you. The pyramid houses a large exhibition space and at the time I was there mostly presented average paintings with seemingly no coherent theme.

Moerenuma Park

You can climb the pyramid to get an overview of the park, though!

Moerenuma Park

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Climbing Mt Yotei in Mid October

The weekend from 18th to 19th October was said to have great weather in Hokkaido, so I set out to try to climb Mt Yotei (Yoteizan or 羊蹄山). Mt Yotei is one of Japan’s 100 famous mountains and is also called Ezo Fuji, meaning “Fuji of Hokkaido” because of its shape which resembles Mt Fuji. While it is “only” 1898m high, it is Japan’s 10th highest mountain by prominence (basically relating to the elevation of its surroundings). Starting at 300m the difference in elevation is about 1600m, which is pretty close to Mt Fuji’s difference in elevation at 1700m when starting at the 5th station. I chose the Hangetsu route from Hirafu Station, next to Niseko because it was the most accessible to me (as I don’t have a car). The plan was to arrive as late as possible at Hirafu station, maybe stocking up on food at a Convenicene store, having a little rest and then starting the climb at around 1am to reach the summit at sunrise.

I arrived at 21:23 with the last train at Hirafu station and it was pitch black. This time I also took some video footage, but I am not sure really what to do with it yet. I might figure out something later.. Anyway, I was amazed by how much the camera was able to see in the darkness!

To my surprise, there was even a little building beside the tracks and the light was actually still on! I went inside and discovered that it was a little self-service guesthouse. I was even more suprised that there were actually people staying there, as the climbing season in Hokkaido is officially over and the skiing season has not begun yet. The people were very nice and we talked about the surrounding mountains, had tea and I ate something. Assuringly they also told me, that bears (which are not uncommon in Hokkaido) are usually not seen around this area, which was good to start with.
Hirafu

I changed clothes and left at around 23:30 for the trail head, as I wanted to take some pictures along the way. It’s about a 2km walk on a road from the station to the camping ground next to the trailhead. The weather was clear and no clouds in sight, making for an amazing night sky!

Yoteizan

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The Daisetsuzan National Park – Part 3: From Nakadake Onsen to Asahidake Ropeway

Read: Part 1 and Part 2 beforehand if you like to.

Nakadake Onsen

We arrived at Nakadake Onsen and decided to have lunch there. A couple people were there already and some even brought a cooking stove and boiled their eggs in the hot spring. The actual hole of the hot spring was quite small but the water was incredibly hot, probably somewhere around 50-60°C. Therefore the hot spring water was fused with water running down from a snowfield above before it led into the onsen.

Nakadake Onsen

Hot water on the left and cold water on the right: the amount of water being mixed was precisely controlled, to make for the best temperature!

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The Daisetsuzan National Park – Part 2: The Daisetsuzan Traverse in October

Attention, this post contains many images so it might be best not to view it on a mobile connection!

Read Part 1 here.

Initially, I only planned to hike to the summit of Mt. Kurodake on Oct. 5, 2014 because I was told multiple times by outdoor shop staff, tourist information staff and the people working at the Youth Hostel, that the popular Daisetsuzan Traverse was already impossible to do due to snow and bad weather. However, at the Youth Hostel I met Wu from China, who initially planned the same route as I had: to hike from Mt. Kurodake across a part of the National Park to Mt. Asahidake. So we decided that we were going to go up in the morning and see for ourselves if we could do it, in case the weather allowed. Note: we carefully weighted our options and were equipped with additional layers of clothing, flashlights and emergency utilities. Do not attempt this route unprepared! As there are also a lot of Brown Bears in the National Park, one is advised not to go alone and to carry a noisy bear bell. We did not have one, but apparently Brown Bears are in hibernation during the winter – so we were not to see one.
According to our map the trip should take us approximately 7h, but I read reports on the internet of people requiring roughly half the time. We wanted to hike from Mt. Kurodake til the Mt. Nakadake intersection and then decide whether we were going to climb Mt. Asahidake or rather walk around it. A map can be found here. The limiting factor was the last ropeway down from Mt. Asahidake which departed at 17h.

I woke up at 5am, packed my backpack and set out to meet with Kaho from Tokyo, whom I met the day before, in the Youth Hostel lobby. The weather was clear and we wanted to take the first ropeway up. However, there was a huge queue and we turned out to be the first in queue for the second ropeway. Good thing, because the second ropeway was nearly empty so we could go around in look in all directions!

Sounkyo

They morning view from the ropeway was stunning! A lot better than the day before!

Sounkyo

Sounkyo
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