Ascent of Ontake-san on 2012-09-25

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Alan Bernier
Duane Gilliland
Adam Helman -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Adrian Rayner
Andrew Tibbetts
Date:Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Ski Lift
    Elevation:10062 ft / 3066 m

Ascent Trip Report

After our Komaga-take ascent, we travel from Komagana by train back to Okaya then onward via Shiojiri to the small tourist town of Akiso-fukushima. We learn from the information desk across the street from the rail station, that there are no hotels in town and none affordable in the vicinity. Instead we stay at Akisokodo Camping Field, N35.83507 E137.74347, a 4.5km, ten minute drive SE of town (the proprietors come out and collect us), and arrange a taxi for the morning to get us to the first (08:30) cable car on the east side of Ontake (the bus gets there over an hour later and we want to be sure of getting the last bus back from the trailhead). We learn we are only the third group of foreigners to stay here in the last five years! It's a nice spot, with showers, even wifi, also more expensive accommodation is available there.

Tue 25. Our taxi collects us just before 07:00. Four of us plus all the gear cram in; the drive to the cable car station (N35.90178 E137.53736, 1577m; if driving it's well signposted for Ontake Ropeway) takes about an hour giving us time to stow non-hill gear in lockers; the staff look after any items too big for the lockers (for the same fee). Alan and Andrew get a lift down to town later and get the first (08:40) bus. The cable car starts running a few minutes before 08:30 (running continuously: small cars holding 4 people each).

Duane, Adam, Adrian and I start hiking from the top station (N35.90005 E137.51138, 2128m) at 08:50. I push on ahead with Adam as I know I'll be slow going down as I have an injured leg; we have to be back down to catch the 16:20 bus back to town. From the cable car a more or less level path traverses left for ten minutes to reach the Station 7 complex (hut). Shortly afterwards we start climbing rough somewhat slippery steps, keeping R at a fork (N35.89699 E137.50869). Station 8 (hut, refreshments) is at N35.89512 E137.49873; we rest for a few minutes. There should be a R turn at or soon after the hut but we don't see it; anyway the summit route is straight on. We pass a large bell, many Buddha statues, several gateways, even a graveyard. We fork L at N35.89486 E137.48834 just below two huts (Station 9, N35.89545 E137.48670, bell) then come to a L fork (N35.89529 E137.48470) then a R fork just beyond a signboard with an excellent topo diagram. There is a nice view of a crater with a turquoise lake. The weather is good: warm with a few clouds above and below us but largely clear all day.

The upper hut complex is a short way further on with fancy steps leading up R to the summit area, with a building, another bell and several statues. The highest point (N35.89291 E137.48039, 3065m) is a rock outcrop R of the building, reached by a short easy scramble (YDS 2+). Passing L of the summit building a nice outcrop is reached, less cluttered and with a fine situation overlooking two craters; however it is lower. There are one or two survey markers although nothing looking like a proper triangulation point. Quite a few folk follow the path down here and head clockwise round the crater rim - looks pretty easy.

Adam and I reach the summit at 11:05 in 2hrs20 and leave at 11:45; the other four arrive a little while before we leave and they head down later, catching us at Station 7. We hike down to the cable car together, arriving at about 1400 (2hrs15 descent, similar to the ascent time due to my injured leg) then take a rather basic but tasty meal in the large restaurant before catching the 16:20 bus back to Akiso-fukushima. We take the train to Chino, planning to climb Aka-dake (Yatsuga-take) tomorrow.

Ontake photo album

Post script: 2 years and 2 days after our ascent, "a very small eruption" kills more than 30 people
"The question of no warning is harder to answer. Volcanologists point out this was a relatively small eruption, and that it was driven by super-heated steam and ash, not by lava being ejected from the magma chamber. That made it much more difficult to predict." PPS - ascents strictly forbidden as of 2016 - P Bjorstad
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3146 ft / 958 m
    Extra Gain:33 ft / 10 m
    Round-Trip Distance:5.6 mi / 9 km
    Route:east route
    Trailhead:east cable car top station  6982 ft / 2128 m
    Grade/Class:YDS 1
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 15 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
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. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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