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Despite being a relatively easy climb, Mt. Shirouma-dake (白馬岳)
(Japanese for "White Horse Mountain") is
question one of Japan's most dangerous peaks, claiming lives
just about every year.
In fact, on Aug. 27, 2006, the very next day after I hiked up the
Daisekkei Valley (大雪渓)
a lady died there after being struck by a huge, 1-meter
that tumbled down out of nowhere in foggy conditions with
After the massive 8000 cu. m. landslide(*) of Aug. 11, 2005 killed one
hiker and injured 2 others in the Daisekkei Valley, a team of Japanese
researchers identified a number of unique factors, the combination of
which make the valley especially hazardous:
Slope angles exceeding 60 degrees (almost
vertical) exist in the upper reaches of the U-shaped glacial valley
The source area of the rockfall is 250
above the valley floor and a number of rock blocks still remain there,
increasing the chances of recollapse
The area is prone to frequent avalanches and
periods of intense rainfall
& snowfall (46 mm of precipitation were recorded on Aug. 10,
day before the above landslide)
An overbundance of glacial rock debris, which
become deadly projectiles in the event of rockslides
Seasonal freeze-thaw cycles aggravate both the
high- and low-density rock joints, increasing the likelihood of future
separation of rock blocks from rockwalls and catastrophic slope failures
Mt. Shirouma-dake is one of Japan's most
popular peaks, even among foreigners, and is easily accessible from the
Tokyo & Osaka
metropolitan areas, making it extremely crowded from late July to
Trekking tours arranged by commercial outdoor
guides for beginner climbers have increased in popularity in recent
(*) The largest volume of sediment in a landslide ever recorded in the
The above researchers in their Nov. 2006 report recommended fundamental
in the education system for climbers, including proposing a map
identifying the most
hazardous areas. And to put in MY 2 cents worth, I've compiled
a short list of news stories about Mt.
Shirouma-dake mountain climbing accidents
which have occurred in recent years. Be careful !
At the top of
Daisekkei Valley (大雪渓)(big
From the Sarukura trailhead (elev. 1250m) to the summit, it took me
almost 7 hrs., including about an hour
minutes to trek across the Daisekkei Valley (大雪渓) (my Mt.
Shirouma-dake trip schedule).
Since the big snow valley can be a bit slippery in places,
especially early in the morning, crampons are recommended and I rented
mine for 700 yen at a little shop just outside of Hakuba Station.
Near the summit, you have a
choice of 2 mountain
huts, one sleeping 1000 and the other one, Hakuba-sanso
(白馬山荘), sleeping a
remarkable 1500. I chose the smaller (and lower elevation) one, Chojo
sleeping quarters for 1500
people, from the summit of Mt. Shirouma-dake (白馬岳)
After scaling Japan's 32nd tallest peak, Mt. Shirouma-yari-ga-take (白
馬鑓ヶ岳, elev. 2903m), a real treat on the way back down to Sarukura was
spring), which was right on the hiking trail and only cost 300
To be honest, the water was a tad too hot for me, especially on my
sunburn from the day before (I was hiking in shorts and forgot my
sunscreen), but a hot spring bath on a hiking trail in Japan is an
White Horse Mountain is arguably one of the most accessible of
highest mountains. I left Shinjuku Station in Tokyo at 9 pm
on Friday night Aug. 25, 2006 and was back home by 9:30 on Sunday
But I did receive a very kind favor from a nice man
who drove out of his way to give me a lift from Matsumoto to
Hakuba. Koichi-san is an Azumino City-based mechanical engineer who
designs Sony Vaio
My Mt. Shirouma-dake (白馬岳) Pics
I hope you'll have time to check out my Flickr photo album below
fabulous mountain climbing trip. Enjoy!!
Pics of Mt.
馬岳), elev. 2932m, Japan's 26th
highest peak, Aug. 25-27,
2006 (The entire
Flickr site is here.)
Mt. Shirouma-dake (白馬岳) Video
Please enjoy the very touching story of a 9-year-old boy
climbing Japan's 20th & 26th highest peaks with his
If you're thinking of doing this climb, I suggest
you pick up a copy of Hiking in Japan
by the Lonely Planet, which was just updated in Aug. 2009.
I own the
2001 edition and it has a nice 5-page write-up of Mt. Shirouma-dake
complete with access info, a small trail map, route description, and
even phone numbers for the mountain huts.
Also, if you have any time to kill before or after your Mt.
Shirouma-dake hike, you might want to take some time to explore the
Hakuba area, the venue for many of the skiing events at the 1998 Nagano
Winter Olympics. This page at Trip Advisor shows a lot of the fun
stuff to do, as well as places to stay in the area.
By the way, if you're in the market for any outdoor gear,
including packs, tents, sleeping bags, jackets, etc., you may wish to check out my new
Great Outdoor Gear Deals page! There you will find access to some of the web's best
real-time deals on outdoor gear from a few of the best outdoor retailers in the industry.
All the retailers shown there offer free shipping, and if you decide to purchase, a portion of all proceeds directly benefit Garyjwolff.com, and help fund future site improvements. Thank you!
Please stop by again soon, as I intend to update this page periodically
with more details in the future, and if you have any questions
or comments, feel free to use the section below. Or if you prefer
sending me a private message, just click on "Contact Me."
if you've already climbed Mt. Shirouma-dake
(白馬岳) & you'd
care to share your climbing story & pics with
climbers, feel free to do so in the section below.
Have a Question or Story about Climbing Mt. Shirouma-dake?
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What Other Mt. Shirouma-dake Climbers Have Said
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