Ascent of Kitahotaka-dake on 2017-09-21

Climber: Doug Wilson

Date:Thursday, September 21, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Elevation:10190 ft / 3105 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was a solo 4 day trip to the Northern Japanese Alps to traverse the Hotaka Range. The 2 main peaks in this area are Yarigatake (10433', 5th highest in Japan) and Oku Hotaka (10466', 3rd highest in Japan). I had done each of these individually while working on the list of 100 Famous Japanese Mountains, but doing the traverse was an opportunity to do 6 more peaks on the list of Japanese 3000 Meter peaks.

Day 1: took an express train from Shinjuku to Matsumoto and transferred to the Kamikochi line to Shin-Shimashima. From there took a bus to Kamikochi in the Chubu Mountains National Park. From the bus terminal it is a pleasant walk to Yokoo Sansoo hut on a gravel road (6.4 miles, 522' elevation gain).

Day 2: took the trail next to Yarizawa river to Yargatake Sansoo hut, dropped my pack and climbed to the summit of Yarigatake. This is a 3rd class scramble with chains and ladders- one route up and one route down to keep things from getting backed up. Last time I summited this peak it was in total clouds, nice views this time, but extremely windy. The wind continued all night with heavy rain. Total elevation gain for the day- 6273' over 7.4 miles.

Day 3: woke up to clear weather, but still windy and a thin layer of ice on all the rocks. Started hiking the traverse to the south, but initially slow going while the ice melted and the wind died down. The ridge is a lot of up and down (hiking up Obami-dake, Naka-dake,Minami-dake) until reaching the Dai-Kiretto (the "big gap")- a large col separating Kita Hotaka from Minami-dake. Dropped over 800' on chains, ladders and 3rd class scrambling to the col, then repeated on the other side going up to Kita Hotaka. Fun 3rd class scrambling- not difficult, but lots of exposure and route finding requiring paying attention. Stayed at the Kita Hotaka Dake Goya hut. Wonderful terrace in front of the hut perched above the kiretto with great views north back to Yari and south to Oku Hotaka. Total elevation gain for the day- 2970' over 8 miles.

Day 4: more scrambling with chains and ladders from Kitahotaka to Karasawa Dake, then dropped down to the Hotaka hut and scrambled to the summit of Oku Hotaka. The trail now heads SE to the base of Mae Hotaka and an 800' scramble to the summit. From here it is a whopping, knee jarring 5000' descent (some of it scrambling) to the starting point at Kamikochi bus terminal and transportation back to Tokyo. Total elevation gain for the day- 2225' over 7.5 miles; total elevation loss 7300'.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1282 ft / 390 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1043 ft / 317 m
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Hut Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1282 ft / 390 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 239 ft / 72 m; Extra: 1043 ft / 317m
    Loss on way in:1043 ft / 317 m
    Route:Hotaka Jusou
    Start Trailhead:Minami-dake  9951 ft / 3033 m
Descent Statistics

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