Advice please, Gary!
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Advice please, Gary!

by Julie

Gary, does this route plan look reasonable to you? We plan to walk in September mid-week.

We are planning a 3-day walk:
Day 1 - Kamikochi to Mt Yarigatake Sanso (via yokoo sanso)
Day 2 - Yarigatake Sanso on to Karasawa hut (again via yokoo sanso, to avoid the Daikiretto!!)
Day 3 - Karasawa hut via Mt Okuhotaka dake back to Kamikochi

Or do you have any other suggestions?...

Thanks very much for the time and effort you have put into your site. It's been an amazing help already!

Kind regards,

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Sep 01, 2013
From Karasawa to Oku-hotake-sanso is maybe around 3 hours
by: Gary Wolff

Hi Julie. Yes, the Shobunsha hiking maps, although a tad expensive, are quite good. Please be mindful, though, that the hiking times (which are fairly accurate) shown are just that...hiking times only, and do not include time that you would stop to rest or have lunch. Shobunsha's 2013 Yari/Oku-Hotaka map is a little cheaper at Amazon Japan:

My 1996 1:150,000 Shobunsha map for the Kita Alps doesn't show a hiking time from Karasawa up to Oku-Hotaka-sanso, but shows the time up to Kita-Hotaka-dake as 3 hours. So I would think from Karasawa up to Hotaka-dake-sanso would probably also be around 3 hours, or slightly longer.

I've heard the autumn colors in the Karasawa Valley are quite stunning. I hope your timing is such that you can see them.

Have a great climb!

Sep 01, 2013
Advice please, Gary!
by: Julie

Thank you very much for your advice. We've followed your recommendation and have considerably shortened the walk.

What do you think of our new route?

Day 1. Kamikotchi - Kara-sawa hut (6-7 hours ascent)
Day 2. Kara-sawa hut to Hotaka-dake-sanso (can your advice how long this will take?)
Day 3. Hotaka-dake-sanso - Kamkotchi (6-7 hrs descent)

We've identified the maps, Japan Hiking Map Series No.37, in this link ( although not in English. But do you think the walk-times in these maps are accurate?

Kind regards

Aug 31, 2013
I wouldn't do it.
by: Gary Wolff

Julie, thanks for your kind words. I have a friend over there in Scotland...somewhere! :-)

Your hiking plan looks a bit too ambitious for my liking, if I can be perfectly honest. A very hard-charging and avid New Zealand climber who lives here in Tokyo, assured me in no uncertain terms a couple months ago that the trail distances in my new mountain climbing book & on my Oku-Hotaka/Yari webpage were inaccurate. She said that the trail signs confirm that the distance from Kamikochi to Yari-ga-dake is in fact 22 km, rather than the 17 km as indicated in my book.

Let me get this straight. You're going to gain 1700 m on Day 1, drop nearly 900 m on Day 2, and then on Day 3, regain the same 900 m & then drop the 1700 m back to Kamikochi. Hmm.

Unless you're already an experienced mountain climber in excellent physical condition, I really don't think this is possible in only 3 days. I did this route back when I was 20 years younger and in reasonably good physical condition, and the course just about killed me. :-)

I'd encourage you to take at least 4 days at a much more leisurely pace. Another consideration for your daily hiking schedule is, if you're planning to stay in the huts, they like for you to arrive by 3 or 4 PM at the latest. Trying to cover too much territory in a limited number of days will invariably cause you to arrive late at the huts, which is a big faux pas in Japanese mountain climbing etiquette.

If you're limited to only 3 days (again, I discourage tackling both Japan's 3rd & 5th highest peaks in such a short timeframe), then you may have to consider doing the Daikiretto. As scary as that sounds, at least by doing the Daikiretto, you would only drop to around elev. 2750 m rather than dropping all the way down to the Karasawa hut at elev. 2300 m.

Either way, despite the stunning take-your-breath-away scenery in these Northern Japan Alps, you should be extremely careful here, because during the past 30 years, over 500 people have lost their lives attempting to scale Mt. Oku-hotaka-dake (奥穂高岳) and Mt. Yari-ga-take (槍ヶ岳).

Best wishes with your hiking!

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