Climbing in Japan - January 2009

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Dan Baker

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Climbing in Japan - January 2009

by Dan Baker » Wed Nov 05, 2008 12:19 am

Hi all,

I'll be in Japan in Januray 2009, staying in Ogaki (Gifu Prefecture) and looking to do a bit of winter climbing while I was there. Does anyone have any beta on winter climbing in Japan ?

Also, I want to hike to the summit of Fuji san - has anyone done this during winter? Many thanks.

Dan :)

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by Iainhw » Fri Nov 07, 2008 5:01 pm

If you're heading in to the hills from ogaki on your own i suggest the following options:
1. Ascent of nishi hodaka. Take cable car from Shin Hotaka and then a 45 min hike to the Nishi Ho hut. THe ascent to the summit takes about 3hrs if memory serves me correctly and is a good fun winter scramble. If you're keen you can proceed on past the summit following the ridge to the main hodaka summit. Not done this but i presume you'll need a rope and some pro in winter....
2. Ascent of Koma ga take (central alps) possible in a day using cable car again. The wall at the back of the cirque will be snowy to about 40-50', otherwise a very straightforward ascent.
3. Ascent of Ontake San from one of the ski grounds on the lower slopes.

There are many many options for winter climbing in japan. Refer to the hiking in Japan books for other options, all those routes can be done in winter too. Remember that Japanese mtns get a good dumping of snow and some of the trekking type routes will require snow shoes, especially as you move nearer the northern coast.

For Fuji in winter your best bet is an ascent on the north side via the kawaguchiko route - watch out for the wind, the last 50 m can also be v icey and is not a good place to test your self arrest technique!

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by radson » Fri Nov 07, 2008 6:57 pm

We went up Fuji in May last year. Was a fun trip, We were the only ones up there and once at the top we did a full circuit of the summit crater.

Just about to hit the summit as the sun rises. Was quite magical.

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by Misha » Mon Nov 17, 2008 7:47 am

Winter climbing in Northern Alps must be fun. Hiking/scrambling around Kamikochi and Yariga-take was great; I can only imagine how much more fun it is when covered in snow!

I have a bunch of beta / guides for the area (in Japanese). If interested in some photo copies/scans/maps, send me a PM.

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by markdp » Mon Nov 17, 2008 10:16 pm

I tried climbing Fuji-san in December and February by the normal popular summer hiking route. In December the snow wasn't so deep and conditions were ok but Feburary was hard. Roadside thermometers on the drive near the mountain were reading something like -10 to -14 deg. C. There had been a recent snow storm and snow prevented driving too far up the road. The walk in approach without snow shoes with a heavy pack through deep snow was tough. The snow got better once on the lower slopes but the wind gusts grew incredibly strong higher up, and continued through the night battering my MH Trango 2 Assault tent (which stood up fine). Skies remained clear luckily. Eventually bailed the next morning after camping at 3000m.

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Winter climb of Fuji-san

by MegasAlexandros » Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:16 pm

I climbed Fuji-san in early December. It was a bitter cold experience but nonetheless an unforgetable experience. First I had make through deep snow but the path was trodden to some extent. Around 2800-2900 things got a little better (or worse) the snow was hard - perfect for crampons. Unfortunately, I arrived late and was on a tight schedule so I headed for the summit. I got dark really fast and no moon around it was pitch black up there. Wind gusts were really strong at times especially near the summit and it was the coldest I had experienced so far. I made it up to the crater (didn't bother navigating to the highest point) about an hour or two after midnight and then went down. I also did not acclimatize well (came from sea level that day) which translated into slow progress. I don't mean to discourage you but I think you should keep these things in mind especially the strong winds.
I've done some trekking in the Japanes Alps but in October so I figure the it is probably a whole different story!

Good luck!


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