As the project to do the Zaō (蔵王) traverse in winter has been postponed again for weather forecast reasons, I made do with another old project : do the Tateshinayama (蓼科山) summit, at the extreme North of the Yatsugatake (八ヶ岳) range, by a non classic itinerary ; the traverse on two days from Piratasu (ピラタス) ropeway (the classical winter route, used by 95% of people if not more, is to do the summit up and down from the Suzuran-toge pass (スズラン峠)). But snow conditions forced us to shorten the itinerary and go down after the Futagoyama (双子山) summit.
I was first planning to camp at Ōgawara-toge pass (大河原峠) on Saturday evening using a route that goes through Yokodake (横岳), Ōtake (大岳) and Futagoyama summits and climb Tateshinayama on Sunday. But after Yokodake there was no trace on this itinerary. With recent snow fall of humid and heavy snow and difficult conditions (snow fall and strong wind) we couldn’t go further Futago-ike lake (双子池).
On Sunday, again without any trace, it was impossible to do more than Futagoyama and go down to Ryūgenbashi (竜原橋). The itinerary was as such short but not easy. Do the trace in humid and heavy snow up to the knees for a day and a half was quite a tough exercise! But our efforts were rewarded on Sunday. With a nice sunshine it was great pleasure to have the entire mountain, clean of any trace, just for ourselves.
Useful maps are:
1/25000地形図、 蓼科、長野12号-4、NJ-54-36-12-4 (Tateshina, Nagano 12-4, NJ-54-36-12-4)
1/25000地形図、 蓼科山、長野12号-3、NJ-54-36-12-3 (Tateshinayama, Nagano 12-3, NJ-54-36-12-3)
GPX file GPS: futagoike-ryugenbashi.gpx.
Warning : from Yokodake summit there are two possible routes to go to Futago-ike. One goes through Ōtake, the other one goes directly down from Yokodake to Kikkō-ike (亀甲池). I strongly do not recommend to use the Ōtake route as we did, but recommend to use the Kikkō-ike lake route. Between Ōtake and Futago-ike lake, the route crosses a plateau full of siberian dwarf pine (Pinus pumila).Covered by snow, you don’t know what you’re walking on and every 3 steps you fall through the snow cover to get trapped in snow and branches, sometimes up to the chest. Don’t even think about doing a short cut and go directly down to the lake through the forest; it’s worse. Dense, full of rocks, crossing it is a nightmare. It’s for this reason that I don’t publish on purpose Saturday’s trace between Yokodake and Futago-ike.
Facts about Tateshina and Yatsugatake range
You will find all the information (mountain lodges, access, security…) regarding: