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Ascent of Yōtei-zan on 2012-09-20

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Alan Bernier
Duane Gilliland
Adam Helman
Adrian Rayner
Andrew Tibbetts
Date:Thursday, September 20, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Bus
Peak:Yōtei-zan
    Location:Japan
    Elevation:1897 m / 6227 ft

Ascent Trip Report

The evening of our Asahi-dake ascent we travel by train to Kutchan and spend the night there. There are hotels near the station, also a camp site on the far side of the river, beyond the railway, at xxx, where Alan, Andrew and I camp. There are mosquitos: Deet is useful as it's a warm night and I'm in a bivvy bag.

We take the 08:15 bus towards Hirafu for a few minutes and are dropped off at N42.84780 E140.73824, 243m, "the starting point for the ascent of Yotei" as it says on the bus stop sign. We start at 08:25, in hot sunshine, walking back a few metres north then taking a side road west, heading straight for our mountain which rises directly from a level forested base, cloud capped. In 25 mins we arrive at a car park with a toilet block, and a signboard in the top left hand corner (N42.84611 E140.75968). This is the start of the walking trail.

We leave the trailhead at 08:50, walking on a very well defined trail, through nice woodland. In 1 km we reach the base of the mountain and the trail steepens, still good but quite rocky with a few tall steps to negotiate (YDS 2+). There are a number of "stations" marked along the trail, mostly at 100m vertical interval. It becomes pleasantly cool, with fine views across chequer-board fields to the improbably named Weisshorn, with its ski slopes, a shapely peak but very different from its swiss alps namesake.

At N42.83082 E140.79853 we reach a trail fork, with the summit signposted (in Japanese) to the left (the R fork goes to the mountain hut on the Makkari trail. Both trails are marked with guide ropes through a small boulder field. We take the L trail, which passes through low scrubby vegetation. We pass several climbers descending. We keep L at a fork (R leads to the crater rim on the longer anticlockwise route to the summit).

We reach the crater rim at N42.83061 E140.80374, 1814m (cairn) and turn L, following the rim clockwise, a broad easy ridge with a few minor cairned bumps. The crater is in two parts, fairly steep sided but grassy; a trail follows the easy dividing ridge between the two craters. We are at the summit at 12:45; the highest point is a rock outcrop (N42.82664 E140.81146, 1895m) with a wooden pole nearby marked with the summit name and elevation. There is a cold wind but we enjoy about half an hour there, with intermittent views including the nearby sea coast.

We descend at about 13:15, most of us continuing clockwise around the rim (some easy scrambling for 500m or so, barely YDS 3). At xxx is a distinctive cairn marking the point where the Makkari trail descends L (S). Alan and Adam make the short descent here to the hut (which is still manned) then take the connecting trail R to reach the rope-marked fork passed on the ascent. Adrian and I continue round the rim, ascending 50m to a broad cairned summit with remains of a substantial building. At this point a signed trail descends R to cross the dividing ridge between the two craters. We go straight on: the trail descends slightly L, leaving the crater rim, to rejoin the upward trail just below the rim; we turn L and are soon back at the rope-marked trail fork, where Alan and Adam are waiting, along with Duane and Andrew who came back the shorter way round the rim.

We descend the way we came. The trail is straightforward but there are many trip hazards, also slippery rocks and occasional mud, hence constant care is needed on the 1500m descent. We are back at the trailhead at 16:40 (8 hour round trip including at least an hour of stoppages). Disappointingly the water supply has stopped working (was ok earlier) but we enjoy half an hour rest before walking down at sunset to the main road where we catch the 17:57 bus back to Kutchan (¥220 each way).

Note that there is an earlier bus back to Kutchan, at about 4 pm. This might be possible for a fast party, especially if the crater round-trip is omitted.

We have time for a leisurely meal in town before bed; Alan, Andrew and I tent/bivvy at the campsite again - a nice cool starlit evening.

Next morning we take the 06:27 train to Osamambe, the nearly empty carriage of the early train being turned into a drying room by the camping contingent! We travel via Hakodate and Shin-Aomori to Morioka on Honshu, and then by bus to Ainokawa camp site, ready to climb our 4th Ultra, Iwate-san the following day.

During one of these train journeys an old lady boards the train with a ticket for the seat Adam is occupying. On closer examination her ticket proves to be for the previous day in the opposite direction. We say nothing but the ticket inspector comes by later and she gets off at the next station.

Iwate photo album
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1725 m / 5660 ft
    Elevation Loss:1725 m / 5660 ft
    Distance:16.7 km / 10.4 mi
    Grade/Class:YDS 2+
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:1665 m / 5463 ft
    Extra Loss:10 m / 33 ft
    Distance:8 km / 5 mi
    Route:from west
    Trailhead:West side, main road  242 m / 797 ft
    Time Up:4 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:1715 m / 5627 ft
    Extra Gain:60 m / 197 ft
    Distance:8.7 km / 5.4 mi
    Route:from west
    Trailhead:West side, main road  242 m / 797 ft
    Time Down:4 Hours 
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO resposibility or liability from use of this data.

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