Tijd  9 uren 33 minuten

Coördinaten 851

Geüpload 25 november 2013

Uitgevoerd november 2013

2.905 m
1.661 m
16,79 km

2510 maal bekeken, 17 maal gedownload

in de buurt Nakazawa, Nagano (Japan)

Yatsugatake traverse, winter hike.

Only two weeks passed since the last time to Akadake (http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=5601103) but I seized the last opportunity before heavier snowfalls to go again but following another route.

Part of the adventure was to get to the trail head this time. Contrary to Gongendaira and Tennyosan parking lots for which a very wide and well maintained road goes all the way, the road going to Akadake sanso from Minotoguchi is a real mountain road. It is not indicated on google maps so we had trouble finding the right turn in the darkness shortly before 12:00 AM. Then once on the right track the road turned out to be uneven and the chassis of the car touched the ground a few times, adding a bit of drama.

After considering parking the car in the middle of the road we finally distinguished a building in the distance and found a parking lot all but empty. We parked and pitched the tent, at first it felt warm but after a few minutes it grew colder and colder and at 4:00 AM when we woke up the condensation froze on the tent poles.
The weather forecast for Chino city suddenly turned from sunny to cloudy for the Saturday morning so I was worried we would face adverse conditions for the ascent and decided to give up any hopes to see the sunrise from Iodake. It turned out that Chino was indeed cloudy in the morning but we were far above the clouds and we saw none above our heads for the whole day. We were also very lucky that there was very little wind and only locally, it was particularly comfortable that at Iodake and Akadake, the two places I feared the most with regard to the wind, had no wind whatsoever when we were there.

We started at 4:30 AM from the parking lot (1720m) in front of Akadake sanso, after a few meters snow appeared on the forest road and the side of it was locally covered in ice. After more than 1km on this road the trail becomes narrower and follow the river with several bridges going over the Kita saw. The trail was iced in many places with up to 10cm of snow but the slope is never steep until Akadake kougen (2220m) so there was nothing dangerous there. From Akadake kougen which we reached still in the dark, the trail goes up to Akaiwa no Kashira (2656m) across the forest with steeper slopes but there are a lot of zigzags making it quite easy to ascent. All trees were covered in snow but there was still too little light to capture any of it on camera. During the middle of the ascent the sun rose and through the trees we could discern interesting tints towards the West. When we passed the tree line approximately at Akaiwa no Kashira, the sun was already relatively high and on the way towards Iodake (2760m) it passed the ridge. From around that point we had a perfect view towards all the ridge up to Akadake and Amidadake. To the West we had a crystal clear view of all the North Alps range, Ontake, the Center Alps and the North part of the South Alps. The North part of Yatsugatake was also visible but less impressive due to a comparatively lesser amount of snow. More mountains with also a significant amount of snow were visible to the North.

From Iodake the green plains and lower mountains to the East came into sight, revealing this part of the world is still enjoying the warmth of Autumn (or alternatively justifying the 8-hour round trip journey to get cold during the night and enjoy walking in 20 cm deep snow). The ridge up to Akadake had less snow than lower in the valley (especially compared to the North and West faces, which is to be expected in general). The view changed as we progressed towards Yokodake and towards the end of the ascent we put on the crampons, good timing here because it was just before we hit the icy stretches.

From the North part of Yokodake to Amidadake, all the exposed stretches have chains solidly anchored to the rocks. With 10 to 20cm of snow there was no tricky parts that day but if the chains were to disappear (when buried under more snow or ice) the use of an ice axe and ropes would be necessary. We met about 20 hikers and most of them had an ice axe, I guess they regretted carrying it because it was really useless. The only parts with ice were well secured with the chains and where there were no chains the snow was soft which made the ice axe really inefficient.

From Yokodake (2825m) Fuji came into view, and Akadake (2899m) was becoming more impressive on each picture until we reached the Tenbo sou at its foot. From there the trail is quite steep and the trail iced in over more than a quarter of the distance. Fortunately solid chains go all the way to the other hut located a few meters from the summit.

At the summit we met a couple fully equipped with helmets, 12-point aggressive crampons, ice axe but unfortunately no experience at all. That stupid asshole decided to climb a 50 cm rock just on my side to take a picture of his girl who was posing near the summit sign (blocking our view as I was already setting my tripod for our picture) he tripped and fell next too me, as a reflex I tried to protect him from falling but fortunately there was a flat area about 50 cm to 1m wide that saved him from falling off the mountain. In the process I received his crampons in the hand, no injury there but astonishingly the moron didn't even apologized for bumping into me. Later that day I heard the news 7 people perished in an avalanche in Tateyama, I'm forced to consider that if you give equipment to morons they just feel like they can go anywhere and be safe, but they can't even put one foot in front of the other without tripping. A wonder that guy made it to the summit without killing himself or anybody else in his wake.

From Akadake the trail towards Amida is steep in the rocks for the first part of the descent and then the slope becomes manageable without chains. A lot of zigzags and a final small uphill lead to Nakadake in between the two main peaks. The trail towards Amida was actually the most challenging part of the day, most of the chains were almost entirely buried in snow and at some part there was nothing better than weak roots to hold on too. It didn't feel dangerous either since I managed to reach the summit with the DSLR in one hand and without gloves. We went back down to Nakadake pass with the same trail, it turned out to be easier than the ascent since we uncovered all the chains and had more holds to go down.

From Nakadake pass to Gyoja koya, the trail has a very gentle slope but it is on the North face of the mountain, there is all but no light hitting that part of the mountain across the day. As a result the snow just doesn't melt and we had 30 cm of powder snow almost all the way to the hut. The trail was hard to discern at some points and the evenness of the snow covered all the obstacles such as rocks and roots which could easily make someone trip. A few traverses, although the trail was flat, required caution for this reason. From Gyoja koya the trail was flat in the forest for a few kilometers and became steeper on rocks with more ice along the river. We packed the camera and the crampons and made it back to the car jogging at a fast pace.

All in all there was snow for 90% of the trail (max 30cm deep) we walked with crampons about half the time and finished the hike in 9:33 compared to 11:05 map time.
Total elevation change is about 1700m and total distance 17 km.

More pictures here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ij1ntazmeo98pa4/1_6JchuizV