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Is a traverse from Hiriji-dake to Kita-dake possible in 3-4 days?

by Marcus
(United States)

Hi Gary -

Really amazing website. Inspiring, to be honest!

A friend and I are gearing up to get out to Japan this week (leaving the 21st), for 9 days, with our goal being to bag as many 3000m peaks as possible, including Fuji. So, I was hoping you could weigh in on the feasibility of an itinerary that involves a ​​3-day traverse from ​​Hiriji-dake to Kita-dake, sleeping at huts along the way.

This makes for about 18-mile days. We are both ultra-marathoners and strong climbers, but I understand this is somewhat of a technical route. To give you an idea, this is our intended traverse: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=6896854

My main question is - ​​is it possible in 3-4 days? The g-maps I've seen have a trail that connects these peaks, but those are not always the most reliable.

Lastly - I have not been able to find any maps for sale online for hikers. Will we be able to obtain some on arrival?

Any additional advice is appreciated :)

I really appreciate your time in responding. Thank you and I will look forward to hearing back.

Marcus

Comments for Is a traverse from Hiriji-dake to Kita-dake possible in 3-4 days?

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Jul 22, 2016
Thanks!
by: Marcus

Thank you again, Gary. Huge help.

Happy peakbagging to you.

Jul 22, 2016
I'd hang out around Kita-dake.
by: Gary Wolff

>​And would you suggest a North-South or South-North traverse?

Neither. Getting to the southern portion of the Minami Alps is a little tricky and off the beaten path, so I'd hang out around Kita-dake. You can catch the bus from Kofu Station up to Hirogawara (http://yamanashikotsu.co.jp/noriai/2016hirogawara.htm)*, climb Kita, Ai, Notori, Senjo, & Kai-koma, and if your name is Superman, maybe even Shiomi. That loop circuit would enable you to knock out 6 of Japan's 24 highest peaks).


>​do you agree the South Alps makes for the best mountain experience in Japan?

Not so sure about that. Granted, the Minami Alps are the most convenient & best range for Tokyoites, but I don't believe anything compares to Yari-ga-take, the so-called Matterhorn of Japan, the magic of the Kamikochi Valley, and Tateyama/Tsurugi) in the Kita Alps.


Have a great trip...

Cheers,
Gary

* this same page shows the schedule for buses from Kai-koma (北沢峠, Kitazawatoge) back to Hirogawara...

Jul 22, 2016
How would you suggest shortening the route?
by: Marcus

Hi Gary -

Thank you very much for your response! I really appreciate you taking the time to write and provide some thoughtful feedback. I like your advice on the route on extending it up to Kaikomagatake - looks epic.

However, how would you suggest shortening the route? When I looked, it seemed like Hiriji-dake was one of the more accessible starting points. And would you suggest a North-South or South-North traverse?

We're basically trying to cram as many South Alps peaks into 3-4 days as possible. To me though, Kita-dake is the only real must-do on the route. (do you agree the South Alps makes for the best mountain experience in Japan?)

Best,
Marcus


Jul 22, 2016
Not unless your name is Superman. :-)
by: Gary Wolff

Thanks, Marcus.

Wow, 18 miles a day sounds a bit brutal to me, and so I wonder whether you'll have time to even enjoy the scenery along the way. :-)

The 2001 version of Lonely Planet's "Hiking in Japan" book shows the Kita-dake to Hijiri-dake route to last 6 days & 78 km. Not sure you can do that in 3-4 days, unless your name is Superman. :-)

One thing to remember is that most mountain huts expect you to arrive no later than late afternoon before dinner is served around 5 or 6, with lights out usually by 8 o'clock. Arriving after dinner while others are preparing to be bed down (or already sleeping) is considered a faux pas in Japan.

1:50,000 trail maps are available online from Amazon Japan (and linked from the bottom of most of my mountain pages), although I don't guess that will be an option for you since your trip is coming up so soon, plus I'm not sure whether they ship overseas, but they are also available at the larger bookstores in Tokyo (albeit a tad pricey...about 10 bucks apiece).

Here's the one for Kita-dake (https://www.amazon.co.jp/2016/dp/4398763015/), which also shows Kai-komagatake, just past the northern terminus of your route, so I assume you are apparently not planning to climb it.

And here's the one for the Hijiri portion: https://www.amazon.co.jp/2016/dp/4398763023/

There are also free topo maps available online (Kita-dake: http://goo.gl/Slguem) for all of the 3000-ers (also linked from the bottom of most of my mountain pages), which might work depending upon what kind of Internet access you'll have from your mobile device, but which is quite spotty at best in the backcountry.

One final note. I was not all that impressed with Hijiri-dake nor with Akaishi or Warusawa, but was totally blown away by Kai-koma. If you realize you've bitten off more than you can chew for a 3-4 day hike, I'd chop off the southern portion of your route and extend it northward to take in Kai-koma.

I'm much older than you and have certainly never run any marathons, :-) but it took me ALL day to hike from the Kita-dake Sanso to Notori-dake and back. LOTS of ups and downs on that route that just about killed me, and I was only carrying a light day pack. Part of that, though, was just being wiped out the day before from the hike up from Hirogawara with a too-heavy pack.

Anyways, hope this helps...

Cheers,
Gary

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