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Tag: Mountaineering

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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Hiking the Yakushima Traverse: Ohokabu to Yodogawa – Part 2

This post is part two of two about hiking the Yakushima traverse in Japan, for part one go here.

After waking up to a little bit of sun peeking through the trees, we had breakfast and started to pack up. The tent was wet from the inside due to condensation and there was no way it was going to dry out in the humid climate, especially with the forest blocking out the direct sunlight. At least it wasn’t raining. At around 7:45am the first day hikers arrived at the Ohokabu (大株歩道入口) coming up from the Arakawa Trial Head (荒川登山口) and said hello while we had a coffee. The day was going to be long so we finished everything up quickly and left at 8:15.

After 30mins we arrived at the famous Wilson Stump (ウィルソン株), which is Cedar tree stump so large that you can go inside!

Special about the Wilson Stump is the shape of the cavity in the stump, it is shaped like a rather perfect heart and thus very popular in Japan! Apparently, most Japanese people have seen the stump’s shape at some point on TV.

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Hiking the Yakushima Traverse: Miyanoura Port to Ookabu – Part 1

This two part series will give an overview over hiking the Yakushima traverse in late summer (beginning of September) in 2017. Part 2 can be found here. Yakushima itself is an island in southern Japan (south of Kyushu) and a part of the Kagoshima prefecture. So consider this to be an excourse from Hokkaido ;)! There are no more active volcanos on Yakushima but still plenty of (amazing, seaside) onsen around.

Planning the tour

The Yakushima traverse hike is the grandfather of the hiking routes on the island but multiple variations of the route are possible. We decided on the route starting at Shiratani Unsuikyo, passing Jomon Sugi, climbing Mt. Miyanoura and finishing at Yodogawa. Furthermore, we aimed at bringing the least amount of gear possible with us to keep our pack weight low. However, as it was the first attempt we kind of failed and brought too much of all types of items (food, clothes, misc stuff that “might” be needed). We landed at the northern Miyanoura Port (宮之浦港) at 13:50 by high speed ferry from Kagoshima (depature 12:00), which was a little bit late in hindsight. A note on Kagoshima port: you can leave your car at one of the public parking lots near the ferry terminal for a fee.

Then we took the bus at 14:00 from the port directly to the northern trail head Shiratani Unsuikyo (白谷雲水峡) which took around 45mins. The trail head is at an altitude of 600m and lots of day tourists were coming back from a hike around the massive Cedar trees close to the trail head, such as the Yayoi Sugi. At the entrance, you have to pay 2000JPY per person if you indent to sleep within the National Park (same for Hut and Tent) and fill out a hiking iternary, in case of emergency. Strangely enough, after asking I was told that we don’t need to fill out a similar sheet upon completion of the hike. At that point we hadn’t decided yet if we were going to stay at the Shiratani Hut (白谷小屋) or walk further so we left both options on the sheet.

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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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