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My wife and I want to climb Mt. Jonen-dake at the end of April

by Conor
(Tennessee)

Hi Gary,

I've been reading as much as I can from your page. So much good stuff. Thank you.

I have a specific question.​​ My wife and I want to climb Mt. Jonen-dake at the end of April (probably on the 28th as a one-day hike), right at the start of Golden Week. Your page says that Golden Week is an okay time to climb the mountain. I heard from a hostel host that he thinks Mt. Jonen will be covered in snow at the end of April. He may be thinking I'm coming earlier, I'm not sure. Can you advise me? I'm not too interested in being on the snow for too long, as we won't be bringing that kind of gear.

My wife and I are both 27 years old and we are in good athletic shape, but we're not super experienced climbers if things get technical. How technical could this get? We don't feel the need to necessarily summit if the top is covered in deep snow and would require lots of gear or be really sketchy without gear. But could we get to the main hut without trouble?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated and so helpful to keep us safe and excited. Thanks so much for your help.

Best,
Conor

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Mar 28, 2016
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"Hiking in Japan" by Wes Lang
by: Gary Wolff

Greetings, Conor.

The Hiking in Japan Jonen page (& website) you referenced was written by Wes Lang, the same guy who founded and administers the Hiking in Japan Facebook group. He's a great guy and has even climbed the Hyakumeizan, Japan's 100 most famous mountains.

Wes had a very close call with some winter hiking a few years ago and which I think motivated him to write this piece: http://www.garyjwolff.com/winter-hiking-tips.html

Yes, the view from the Jonen-goya mountain hut is quite stunning, in fact one of the best I've ever seen in the Japanese Alps. But if another motivation is just to have the mountain hut experience, there are a number of them much closer to Tokyo & which should likely be open in late April, for example at the 5th station of Mount Fuji: http://www.garyjwolff.com/mt-fuji-mountain-huts.html

And on nice days (and even on not so nice days), :-) the view from there is truly amazing: https://flic.kr/s/aHskibKsxu

The actual opening dates for the huts vary widely not only by location, altitude, & popularity of the climbing route, but as you mentioned, lingering snow conditions as well which change from year to year.

Best wishes...

Cheers,
Gary

Mar 28, 2016
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Thanks, you've been a great resource.
by: Conor

Gary,

Thanks for the really prompt reply! So helpful.

I'm thrilled Japan has such cool mountains. I'm bummed that we are coming at the wrong time to hike any of them! It sounds like Golden Week is too early to get on top of any of them. It was not your website that said Golden Week was within the potential range of climbing dates. It was here under the "When To Go" section a few paragraphs in: https://japanhike.wordpress.com/2008/03/03/mt-jonen/

We would love to get to Jonen-goya mountain hut just to experience the view you wrote about and to see what these huts are like. I've searched for information about when the huts open, but it's not easily available and I can't find reliable data. I'm sure it depends, in some ways, on the weather/snow. If you have any idea if that's true, please let me know. You said it may be a crapshoot, which makes me think that's the case. I will post in the facebook page and let others comment.

Thank you so much for your help. You've been a great resource. I'll get in touch if I have any other questions (or donations!) for you.

Blessings,
Conor


Mar 28, 2016
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Probably still too much snow during Golden Week
by: Gary Wolff

Howdy, Conor! Thanks for your kind words and website donation.

I'm not sure where you read that it was okay to climb during Golden Week, but if you can tell me exactly where, I'll be happy to remove that comment. :-) Even though I've climbed 38 of Japan's highest 50 highest peaks, the only one that I climbed outside the August to October climbing season (as you can see from this list: http://www.garyjwolff.com/highest-mountains-in-japan.html#list), was Mt. Norikura-dake which I climbed with a bunch of crazy Japanese guys when we hiked up the peak in our ski boots & skis over our shoulders, and then skied down from near the summit. :-)

Being from Houston where it snows only about once a decade, I can't say I'm a big fan of the white stuff and I avoid it at all costs. Let's be clear... Golden Week is still considered "winter" up in Japan's alpine country. Every year I sadly read in the news about the rash of mountain climbing accidents during Golden Week, and a number of them resulting in fatalities.

As to whether the Jonen-goya mountain hut will be accessible at that time, I guess that'll pretty much be a crapshoot. Since you'll be coming from overseas, you might want to consider one of the many smaller yet very scenic peaks in the Tokyo area, for example Mount Takao, about an hour by train west of Tokyo: http://www.takaotozan.co.jp/takaotozan_eng1/cource/

You might also post your question in the "Hiking in Japan" Facebook group, a very robust and helpful forum: https://www.facebook.com/groups/9872778764/

I hope this helps. Happy trails to you and your wife...

Cheers,
Gary

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