Exhausted

Wow ! We have to climb that wall ?

That was my first reaction when we arrived at the top of Maehotaka (前武尊) and discovered Kawaba-Kengamine (川場剣ヶ峰) summit, the first and “most technical” summit we had to climb in our plan to traverse Jōshu-Hotakayama (上州武尊山). Not very difficult, I was not expecting that and was a bit impressed at first.

Stucked in traffic jam, the bus we took the same morning from Tōkyō arrived at OGNA ski resort (オグナスキー場) 2 hours late. Passed Kawaba-Kengamine and technical difficulties, the sunset was already. The weather conditions were perfect so we decided to try to follow our initial plan. We had to keep going to try to reach Mitsuike (三ッ池), where we were planning to camp, before dark. No time to enjoy the scenery.

Okihotaka - Nakanodake - Ienokushi ridgepanoama from Kengaminesunset on Joshu-Hotakayama

However we quickly realized that we would never reach the planed campsite. With snow up to knee high despite the snowshoes we had hard time to walk in snow melted by the sun. We just had to try to go as far as we could and camp before dark. Not even time to take any break. It’s completely exhausted that we pitched the tent on the ridge just before Nakanodake (中ノ岳) summit. Demoralized we had to motivate ourselves to melt snow to prepare water. After dinner and a liter of hearb tea we relaxed a bit but we were still worried about next days difficulties.

We decided for a start before sunrise to have some margin and at 5:30 we were on our to Nakanodake. As the snow froze again during the night, it was way easier to walk and the sky, without a single cloud, offered us an increadible sunrise. In such perfect conditions, the anxiety due to the previous day difficulties disappeared instantly and the walk on the ridge up to Okihotaka (沖武尊) was pure pleasure. When we reached the summit, we could quietly contemplate an incredible 360° panorama and summits like : Mont-Fuji (富士山), Southern Alps, Central Alps, Northern Alps, Asama-Yama (浅間山), Shigakōgen (志賀高原), Naebasan (苗場山), Tanigawadake (谷川岳), Hiuchigatake (燧ケ岳), Shibutusan (至仏山), Nikkō-Shiranesan (日光白根山)… Rare and simply breathtaking.

morning panorama on the way to Okihotaka 1morning panorama on the way to Okihotaka (Joshu-Hotakayama) 3sunrise on Ienokushi and Kengaminemorning lights on Nakanodake - Ienokushiyama and Kengaminelast efforts before Okihotakamorning light on Joshu-Hotakayama

We then just had to walk down to Hōdaigi (宝台樹スキー場), in a snow melted again by the sun. Whithout enough water, snow up to the knees, under a blazing sun, the end was tough. It had been a long time since I didn’t came back that exhausted from the mountains. But it was more than worse the efforts. It was again a great travers, with the mountain just for ourselves, breataking landscapes and the pleasur the complete a nice winter traverse.

traverseon the way down from OkihotakaOn the ridge on the way down with Okihotaka in the background

Maps

Useful map are:
1/25000地形図、日光16号-1 鎌田 NJ-54-29-16-1 (Kamada, Nikko 16-1, NJ-54-29-16-1)
1/25000地形図、日光16号-3 藤原湖 NJ-54-29-16-3 (Fujibara, Nikko 16-3, NJ-54-29-16-3)

 
Elevation Profile

GPX file GPS:joshuhotaka-0311.gpx.

Read the disclaimer before using the GPX files.
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