This post is the 2nd out of 3 about traversing the Japanese Northern Alps (北アルプス). Henceforth, I will describe the trek 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!
Furthermore, the ascend to the summit involves some climbing (always assisted with rails, ladders etc.) so that people line up to wait at bottlenecks if there are many people attempting to summit. Luckily this morning it wasn’t really the case. So after putting on lots of clothes (it gets kinda cold and windy at night), we headed out for the summit. It takes about 10-30mins from the camp ground, depending on congestion and climbing speed. Many Japanese people wear a helmet but the rock was very solid and it was not necessary. If required it could be rented from the hut for 6000JPY – useful if doing the Hotaka traverse.
Anyway, we got up in time and the view was breath taking. The sun slowly came up over the horizon and lit up the mountains all around. Space on the top was somewhat limited albeit larger than expected.
You could even see the famous Mt Fuji (富士山) clearly.
The view towards todays trip and Mt Hotaka (穂高岳) in the upper left with the Daikiretto (大キレット) right before it could also be seen. Today, we start at the camping ground to the bottom right. Then, hike up Mt Obami (大喰岳), Mt Naka (中岳) and finally Mt Minami (南岳). There the plan is to evaluate whether crossing over the Daikiretto (大キレット) is attainable and then either continue or descend the Mt Minami Shindo (南岳新道) towards the Yaridaira Hut (槍平小屋).
After packing the tent and having lunch, we headed out, albeit kind of late in the day (approx. 10am).
The trail continues over the ridge with three summits inbetween. All in all, there is not too much vertical though, it is mostly traversing. At some points the trail is somewhat narrow…
… and a little bit of scrambling is necessary from time to time.
From the summit of Mt Minami, the path down to the Yaridaira Hut became visible. At the end of the ridge, it’s also apparent that the way down is a pretty steep slope. Actually, at the bottom right of the picture you can even see the hut which is a little more than 1000m below the summit (located at 1990m, Mt Minami summit is at 3032m).
A bit further down past the Mt Minami Hut (南岳小屋) you get a breathtaking view of Mt Kita-Hotaka’s face (北穂高岳) with the Daikiretto (大キレット) in between. After cooking a meal close to the hut we decided to head down towards Yaridaira (槍平小屋) instead of continuing further to Mt Kita-Hotaka (北穂高岳), believing that the way down would be much easier and much less technical.
Now, once heading down Mt Minami Shindo (南岳新道) we came to the notion that we might have taken a wrong turn. According to our map (OpenStreetMap data from August 2017, this trip was in September 2017), the trail should’ve continued straight down in switch-backs to the right of the picture above. Instead it headed towards the ridge on the left. We later learned that a land slide had obliterated the old trail. The “new” one, which actually used to to be an old trail not maintained any longer, was the makeshift alternative. I can provide GPX tracks of the current trail and also adjusted the trial in the OSM data.
The ridge made for some beautiful pictures though, as the clouds moved over it at an incredible speed.
Starting to come off the ridge, one could see the Yaridaira Hut (槍平小屋) about 800m below…
The trail continued to be pretty steep, with amazing views along the way.
One could tell that the trail was not actively maintained any longer, so it was often easier and safer to side-step the provided ladders…
However, I can still really recommend the route….
15min before reaching the hut, the trial merged with the “destroyed” trail again, and it became apparent why it was blocked. Perhaps a little difficult to tell from this picture, but there were lots of trees within the rubble suggesting that some sort of mud-slide had come down at not too long ago.