Minami Alps, Kitadake Trekking – The Second Highest in Japan

13 – 14 September 2014

In Japan, not only Fujisan, there are so many interesting mountains. Before the winter coming, it is a good time for trekking.

This time, I and my friends choose to climb up Kitadake (Mt. Kita ,北岳) where is on the Minami Alps in Kofu, Yamanashi prefecture. This trekking route will take about 8-9 hour to reach the top of Kitadake (3,193 meters).

Our main purpose is the same that we want to see our lovely mountain, Fujisan, in different angle. After we seen the photo of looking to Fujisan from Kitadake, we only wait for the right time and right weather come without changing our mind.

Japanese really love trekking. Look like it is one of their normal activity. Kitadake trekking also one of most famous place for them and this mountain is the second highest one in Japan (number one is Fujisan, 3,776 meters). So it really sounds interesting for me.

I’ve never tried long trekking before so this trip trouble me a lot because I really have no experience and well preparation. Also trekking route to Kitadake is even harder than climb up Fujisan. So anyone who want to try first long trekking, I suggest to have a long good plan and do not just try like me 😦

On the day, we’ve started from Tokyo around midnight and reach the parking area in Kofu called Ashiyasu at 3am. We only have a short nap then we need to queue up for the bus at 4am. Even the first bus is at 5am but this week is a long holiday and crowded is as expectation.

Around 1 hour, we reach Hirogawara (広河原), Minami Alps national park and start our long trekking at 7am. We only reach Shirane oike koya (白根御池小屋), the first rest place on lunch time. This first step, we take double time compare to normal Japanese.

After this place with half an hour trekking through the forest, we reach to the river in the valley named Ookanbazawa (大樺沢二俣) where the top of this river is the mountain ridge.

Trekking to the top of this river starting to trouble me a lot. Since we ,especially me, had only very short sleep before trekking, we are so tired already on this point. The route is steep and rocky. If you don’t have enough experience, it should be a hard time. So we reach to the top of this river around 6pm and the sky is starting darker. This place is only 60-70% of the whole route.

The sky is totally dark and our harder time comes. To trek along this route, we need to find and connect the red dot that put on the rock. So torch is our important item right now. And because of the dark, we manage to reach to the mountain ridge after mid night.

Our last path will bring us to Kitadakesanso (北岳山荘),the final rest place but we can’t manage to it because the most end of this route is very narrow and dangerous in the dark. We can’t see the trekking path well then we decide to stay near to that place. At least we could find non windy place to take a short nap before sunrise.

Before sunrise, fog covers all over the place and it is too cold to take more napping. Only thing we can do is just to wait for the sunrise at 5am under 0 degree, take photos and trek back to the start point.

Finally, we see our lovely mountain Fujisan in early morning after fog gone. Actually, we almost have no energy enough to bring our cameras out but at least, once in our lifetime, we decide to take the photos for our memory. 7am in the morning, we start to trek back and manage to reach the last bus at the starting point on 4am. Trekking back under the sun light is not that hard as climbing up.

My first Kitadake trekking will remind me a lot of good and bad memory. Teamwork, help and friendship make our dream come true even we can’t reach the top of Kitadake but we have seen the Fujisan from Kitadake as our goal (anyway we reach about 3,000 meters :D). Danger without well prepare are the bad things but not always. They are our good experience and will tell us to have a better plan for next trekking.

I wish this first long trekking is not my last trekking. It is my starting point to prepare myself better for next destination.

Good information about Minami Alps – Kitadake trekking is in my friend website (Thai language). It is very details and good information (if you can translate it) 🙂

See you (not so) soon, my next mountain and my lovely Fujisan 😀

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