Information about Yarigatake (槍ヶ岳), Hotakadake (穂高岳) and Kamikōchi (上高地)

 In Hyakumeizan (百名山), Mountain information

Last week-end, I cancelled a trip to Yarigatake (槍ヶ岳) andHotakadake (穂高岳) mountains in Japan’s Northern Alps (北アルプス), but you will find in this article all the useful information to go hiking, trekking, mountaineering, alpine, ice or rock climbing on these summits as well as around Kamikōchi (上高地) and Shin-Hotaka-Onsen (新穂高温泉).

General information

Yarigatake (or Mount Yari) and the summits of Hotakadake (or Mount Hotaka), due to their steep alpine landscapes (which is not so common in Japan), is one of the most popular place for anyone who practice mountain activities whatever the level but also for tourists enjoying the landscapes while strolling in Kamikōchi.

Yarigatake 3,180m (10,430 ft), gets its name from its steep rocky peak (Yari means spear). Mount Hotaka is made of four summits which share the name: Nishi-Hotakadake (西穂高岳, or Mount Nishihotaka) 2,909m (9,544 ft), Oku-Hotakadake (奥穂高岳, or Mount Okuhotaka) 3,190m (10,466 ft), Mae-Hotakadake (前穂高岳, or Mount Maehotaka) 3,090m (10,138 ft) and Kita-Hotakadake (北穂高岳, or Mount Kitahotaka) 3,106m (10,190 ft) as welle as Myōjin-dake (明神岳, or Mount Myōjin) 2,931m (9,616 ft) and Karasawa-dake (涸沢岳, or Mount Karasawa) 3,110m (10,203 ft) for the main peaks. The two are part of the hyakumeizan (Japan’s one hundred famous mountains), are at the border between the Nagano (長野県) and Gifu (岐阜県) prefectures and are part of the Chūbu-Sangaku-Kokuritsu-Kōen national park (中部山岳国立公園).

These summits, which are aligned on the North-South ridge with on the East the Kamikōchi valley and on the West, the Shin-Hotaka-Onsen, are major objectives for many hikers and mountaineers. The Yarigatake ~ Kita-Hotakadake ridge pass by a very narrow, razor blade like ridge section called Daikiretto (大キレット) ; l’the ridge between Nishi-Hotakadake and Oku-Hotakadake pass by a submit called Le Gendarme (ジャンダルム) and is considered by mainy as the hardest hike in Japan. These two itineraries are main objectives for many hikers who want to challenge themselves on those routes which are not classic hikes anymore. Very alpine, equipped with chains and ladders, they require to rock scramble and can require a rope depending and your level and conditions. In winter these itineraries are true alpine routes.

climbing Tengudake s slab - 2climbing Tengudakeclimbing the horse s back (Uma-no-se) 4hikers climbing the horse s back (Uma-no-se) 2hikers on the Donkey s hear (roba-no-mimi)

Even if these itineraries are not trail hiking anymore they are equipped and signs indicate where to go every meter. But there are many variation route, alpine routes or even climbing routes. Although Yarigatake‘s summit receives several thousands of visitors a year coming for the main trails, only a few dozen climb it by the Kitakama-one (北鎌尾根) ridge, which might be on of the most mythical variation route in the Northern Alps and a true alpine route in winter/spring. At the beginning (end of January) and end (from end of April) of the winter, the area is a great place for mountaineering and alpine climbing, but be careful with avalanches (see below), and apparently even ice climbing near Kamikōchi.

Don’t expect to be alone on these popular mountains. It is crowded, sometimes very crowded, sometimes incredibly crowded to the point that you have to queue, especially during long three days week-ends when every one takes advantage of these long week-ends to attempt the routes impossible to do in two days.

the queue waiting to go down to Okuhotaka lodge 2

I would highly advise to avoid national holidays three days week-ends (at least take a day off on top of a week-end to make your own 3 days week-end), avoid the kōyō (red leaves) season and take your tent to avoid over crowded lodges.

Outings examples

Caught in an avalanche while attempting Myōjindake (明神岳)

This is just a raw video for information purpose of a small avalanche we got caught in few days ago while traversing Kamiyagawa valley (上宮川谷) when going up to Hyotan-ike (ひょうたん池) to climb the [...]

Caught in an avalanche, K2 in a day without oxygen

After a night bus trip from Tōkyō (東京), we arrived at Kamikōchi (上高地) on Saturday morning for the first long week-end of Japan's "golden week". There was heavy snow fall for the season. It looked [...]

Mountain Lodges

There are many lodges, but let’s be clear, as there are many people, lodges are run like clockwork. Don’t expect to spend a good time in a cosy lodge and quietly recover from your hard hiking day. During national holidays three days week-ends don’t be surprised, even if you booked, to get as a bed a mattress and blanket in a corridor. Lodges do over booking and booking or not, the first arrived is the first served. THe best advice I could give is to take your tent. But be careful, due to the lack of place on the narrow ridges, camping places areas near lodges are limited and you’d better arrive early if you want to find a place.

Also note that there are hotels at Kamikōchi and Shin-Hotaka-Onsen that I won’t detail here. Check the Kamikōchi tourist office web site and Shin-Hotaka-Onsen tourist office web site for more information.

Kamikōchi area

Asayakenoyado Myōjinkan (朝焼けの宿 明神館)

Location: At the intersection of the trail heading to Tokugōtōge pass (徳本峠) and the off trail pass to Myōjindake (明神岳)
Opened period: end of April ~ beginning of November
Tel/Fax: during the season: 0263-95-2036, off season: 0263-33-3353, FAX : 0263-95-2037
Email:
Web Site: http://www.myojinkan.co.jp
Comments:

Tokusawa lodge (徳沢ロッヂ)

Location: At the entrance of the Tokusawa valley, at the start of one of the trail heading to Chōgatake (蝶ヶ岳)
Opened period: end of April ~ mid-October
Tel/Fax: 0263-95-2526
Email: tokusawalodge@m-kamikouchi.jp
Web Site: http://www.m-kamikouchi.jp/tokuzawalodge/index.html
Comments:

Tokusawaen (徳澤園)

Location: At the entrance of the Tokusawa valley, at the start of one of the trail heading to Chōgatake (蝶ヶ岳)
Opened period: end of April ~ beginning of November
Tel/Fax: during the season: 0263-95-2508, off season: 0263-94-2438, FAX : 0263-95-2512
Email:
Web Site: http://www.tokusawaen.com
Comments: more an hotel/pension than a mountain lodge

Yokoo-sansō (横尾山荘)

Location: At the crossing of the trail heading to Karasawa
Opened period: end of April ~ beginning of November
Tel/Fax: during the season: 0263-95-2421, off season: 0263-33-2225
Email:
Web Site: http://www.yokoo-sanso.co.jp
Comments: Camping nearby

Hotakadake area

Yakedake lodge (焼岳小屋)

Location: At the Nakaotōge pass (中尾峠), North of the Yakedake (焼岳) summit
Opened period: beginning of Hune ~ end of October
Tel/Fax: 090-2753-2560
Email:
Web Site: http://www.m-kamikouchi.jp/yakedake/
Comments:

Nishiho-sansō (西穂山荘)

Location: South of the Nishi-Hotakadake summit
Opened period: all year
Tel/Fax: lodge: 0263-95-2506, booking office: 0263-36-7052
Email:
Web Site: http://www.nishiho.com/
Comments: has a camp site (be careful, there are few places)
It is the only mountain lodges of the Southern part of Japan Northern Alps that is opened all year

Dakesawa lodge (岳沢小屋)

Location: In the Dakesawa valley, South of Oku-Hotakadake summit
Opened period: end of April ~ beginning of November
Tel/Fax: 090-2546-2100
Email:
Web Site: http://www.yarigatake.co.jp/dakesawa/
Comments:

Hotakadake-sansō (穂高岳山荘)

Location: Between the Oku-Hotakadake and Kita-Hotakadake summits
Opened period: end of April ~ beginning of November
Tel/Fax: 090-7869-0045 / 0577-36-8480
Email:
Web Site: http://www.hotakadakesanso.com/
Comments: Has a campsite (there are limited places so arrive early)

Karasawa lodge (唐沢小屋)

Location: In the Karasawa curl
Opened period: end of April ~ beginning of November
Tel/Fax: lodge: 090-2204-1300 / FAX : 050-3730-9248
tel off season: 0263-94-2538 / FAX off season: 0263-94-2551
Email:
Web Site: http://www.karasawagoya.com/
Comments: has a campsite

Karasawa hut (涸沢ヒュッテ)

Location: In the Karasawa curl
Opened period: end of April ~ beginning of November
Tel/Fax: lodge: 090-9002-2534 / bureau : 03-3211-1023 / FAX : 03-3211-8093
Email:
Web Site: http://www.karasawa-hyutte.com/
Comments: has a campsite, rent tents and sleeping bags (booking mandatory)

Kitahotaka lodge (北穂高小屋)

Location: Just North of the Kita-Hotakadake summit
Opened period: end of April ~ beginning of November
Tel/Fax: lodge: 090-1422-8886
Email:
Web Site: http://homepage3.nifty.com/kitaho/
Comments: it is better to book
has a camp site 10 minutes walk from the lodge South of the summit (20 tents max)

Yarigatake area

Yarisawa lodge (槍沢ロッヂ)

Location: In the Yarisawa valley at the start of the long uphill heading to Yarigatake summit
Opened period: end of April ~ beginning of November
Tel/Fax: 090-3135-0003 or 0263-95-2626
Email:
Web Site: http://www.yarigatake.co.jp/yarisawa/
Comments:

Hut Nishidake (ヒュッテ西岳)

Location: At Nishidake summit East of Yarigatake
Opened period: beginning of July ~ beginning of October
Tel/Fax: tel during the season: 0263-77-1488 / FAX during the season: 0263-77-4288
tel off season: 0263-77-2008 / FAX off season: 0263-77-5488
Email:
Web Site: http://www.nakabusa.com/lodge/lodge.html
Comments: has a camp site

Hut Ōyari (ヒュッテ大槍)

Location: In the Yarisawa valley, under the summit
Opened period: beginning of July ~ mid-October
Tel/Fax: lodge: 090-1402-1660
Enzansō company managing this lodge tel: 0263-32-1535 / FAX : 0263-32-0898
Email:
Web Site: http://www.enzanso.co.jp/ooyari/
Comments:

Sesshō hut (殺生ヒュッテ)

Location: Just below the summit of Yarigatake
Opened period: mid-June ~ mid-October
Tel/Fax: tel during the season: 0263-77-1488 / FAX during the season: 0263-77-4288
tel off season: 0263-77-2008 / FAX off season: 0263-77-5488
Email:
Web Site: http://www.nakabusa.com/lodge/lodge.html
Comments:

Yarigatake sansō (槍ヶ岳山荘)

Location: At the base of Yarigatake rocky spear
Opened period: end of April ~ beginning of November
Tel/Fax: lodge: 090-2641-1911
Email:
Web Site: http://www.yarigatake.co.jp/yarigatake/
Comments: hudge 650 places lodge
camp site for about 30 tents only

Minamidake lodge (南岳小屋)

Location: Just South of Minamidake summit
Opened period: beginning of July ~ mid-October
Tel/Fax: 090-4524-9448
Email:
Web Site: http://www.yarigatake.co.jp/minamidake/
Comments: camp site of about 30 to 40 places

Yaridaira lodge (槍平小屋)

Location: At the end of the Migimatadani (右俣谷) valley, South-West of Yarigatake summit
Opened period: beginning of July ~ mid-October
Tel/Fax: lodge: 090-8863-3021
office tel: 0578-89-2523 / FAX : 0578-89-3303
Email: yaridairagoya@gmail.com
Web Site: http://www15.ocn.ne.jp/~yari-d/
Comments: has a campsite of about 50 places unusable in case of heavy rain

Takidani emergency lodge (滝谷避難小屋)

Location: At the crossing between Migimatadani and Takidani valleys
Opened period: emergency lodge
Tel/Fax:
Email:
Web Site:
Comments:

Shin-Hotaka-Onsen area

Hotakadaira lodge (穂高平小屋)

Location: At the start of the valley heading to Yarigatake
Opened period: mid-July ~ end of October
Tel/Fax: lodge: 0578-89-2842
office tel: 0578-82-4010 / FAX : 052-822-4250
Email:
Web Site:
Comments: has a small campsite for about ! tents

Access from Tōkyō

To check train schedules, use the following site (in English) : http://www.hyperdia.com/en/ or google map itinerary tool.

Kamikōchi (上高地)
Kamikōchi is the main entrance to Yarigatake, many of the Mount Hotaka summits and also summits on the East side of the valley. The easiest and most direct way to get there from Tōkyō is without a doubt the bus and preferably the night bus. You can leave Tōkyō in the evening and be at Kamikōchi‘s’ bus terminal before 6:00 AM which allows you for an early start which is necessary if you are heading to the summits. You will have to forget your comfort though as well as the idea of having a good rest night before your long hike. But if you want to optimize your time and do some trail over the week-end it is the best option.The Alpico company runs such buses. There are two types of comfort. The bus with 3 lines of reclining seats and space for the legs and normal bus with four lines of seats (like airlines’ business and economy class). Check this page for all information and booking about these day and night bus. It costs between 6,000¥ and 9,000¥ depending on the season and the comfort level for a one-way ticket. Book your tickets well in advance, especially if it is for a national holidays three days week-end.

By train, you will have to take a super azusa from Shinjuku station (新宿駅) to Matsumoto (松本駅) and change there for a local train on the Matsumoto-dentetsu-Kamikōchisen line (松本電鉄上高地線) to Shinshimashima station (新島々駅). The first train leaves at 7:00 and the whole trip takes about 3:40 and costs about 7,100¥ without reservation and 7,800¥ for reserved seats. From Shinshimashima, you will have to take a bus to Kamikōchi. Check this page for the bus timetables. At best you will be in Kamikōchi around noon, which is good enough if you plan to just stroll around but not if you aim for some of the main summits.

For more information on the various access, check the corresponding page on Kamikōchi tourist office web site.
Shin-Hotaka-Onsen (新穂高温泉)
It is the other main access point ; especially to go to Nishi-Hotakadake. The Shinhotaka ropeway cable car (新穂高ロープウエイ) saves you about 1,000 meters (3,280 ft) of uphill and put the summit at just four hours from the top of the cable car. There are also day and night bus from Nōhi bus (濃飛バス) bus company that runs from Shinjuku to Hirayuonsen (平湯温泉). Check this page for the timetable and other information. The problem is that Hirayuonsen, it is far from the cable car or the start of the trails You will have to wait until the morning (7:00 AM) to take the first bus to the cable car. Check the link時刻表 for the bus 平湯・新穂高線 on this page for the timetable. If you don’t want to wait for the morning, you can take a taxi but you will have to book it in advance. But if you plan to take the cable car, there’s no need to hurry as it starts at 8:30.

There are two options that combine train and bus. The first one is to take a train from Matsumoto and from there take a bus to the Shinhotaka ropeway cable car. The trip takes about 2 hours and cost about 5,200¥. Check this page for the timetable and more information. The second option is to take a shinkansen to Takayama (高山). from Tōkyō it takes about 4 hours and costs about 14,000¥ without reservation and about 15,300¥ with reservation (Note that there are also highway night bus between Tōkyō and Takayama). From the Takayama bus terminal, you then have to take a bus to the cable car which takes about an hour and a half and cost about 2,200¥. So it is obvious that from Tōkyō this option is not interesting financially nor for time saving. It can be an option only coming from Nagoya or Osaka for example.

For more information on the various access, check the corresponding page on Shin-Hotaka-Onsen tourist office web site.
Nakafusa-onsen (中房温泉)
There are many trails heading to Kamikōchi from Matsumoto side, West of the Jōnendake (常念岳) ~ Chōgatake (蝶ヶ岳) ridge. I will only mention here the access to the trail starting from Nakafusa-onsen. You also have to take a train to Matsumoto and change for a local train on the Ōitosen line (大糸線) to Hotaka (穂高駅). It takes about 3:20 and costs about 6,800¥ for non-reserved seat on the super azusa between Shinjuku and Matsumoto and a bit more than 7,500¥ for reserved seat. From there you have to take a bus of the Nan-an taxi company (南安タクシー, yes the name is a bit confusing but they to run bus) to the hot spring resort. It takes about 1 hour and cost about 1,700¥. Check this page for the timetable. From there Yarigatake is two days walk away.

For more information on the various access, check the corresponding page on the hot spring resort web site.

Maps

Necessary maps are at the minimum :
1/25000地形図、槍ヶ岳、高山6号-2、 NJ-53-6-6-2 (Yarigatake, Takayama 6-“, NJ-53-6-6-2)
1/25000地形図、穂高岳、高山7号-1、 NJ-53-6-7-1 (Hotakadake, Takayama 7-1, NJ-53-6-7-1)
1/25000地形図、上高地、高山7号-2、 NJ-53-6-7-2 (Kamikōchi, Takayama 7-2, NJ-53-6-7-2)
1/25000地形図、笠ヶ岳、高山7号-3、 NJ-53-6-7-3 (Kasagatake, Takayama 7-2, NJ-53-6-7-3)

or the 1/50000 map 山と高原地図、槍ヶ岳・穂高岳上高地) Yama-to-Kōgen-chizu, Yarigatake/Hotakadake (Kamikōchi)

 

Security

All the trails heading to any of the Yarigatake and Hotakadake summits are not classic hike trail as they contain section requiring rock scrambling. It’s not rock climbing yet but it is not just walking anymore ; you have to use your hands. Numerous sections of these trails have chains and ladders. Listing all those sections would be impossible, you’ll have to adapt to the situation. On some itineraries like the Nishi-Hotakadake ~ Oku-Hotakadake traverse, many hikers wear an helmet today. Depending on your level, a harness, a rope and other mountaineering gears and technics could be necessary. Outside of the exposure of these routes, one of the main danger is the crowd and rock falls. Be cautious when crossing people.

In winter and until spring, all the valleys are highly exposed to avalanche risks. All members of your party should be equipped with a beacon, a shovel and a probe and trained on how to use them. These devices do not prevent avalanches! They are used to rescue your partners caught in an avalanche. So even if you are equipped and trained, it is your responsibility, to evaluate on the field the ever changing snow conditions, the avalanche danger, which is the safest route and if it is wiser or not to go back and cancel your outing. Check this video for a “light” example.

Check the weather forecast on the English page of the Japan Meteorological Agency : http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html

Possible source of information regarding mountain conditions

Other useful numbers in case of emergency

  • the police office of Matsumoto (松本警察署) town at 0263-25-0110
  • the central phone number of the Nagano prefecture police at 026-233-0110,
  • the mountain information service of the Nagano police at 026-235-3611.
  • the police office of Takayama (高山警察署) town at 0577-32-0110
  • the central phone number of the Gifu prefecture police at 058-271-2424
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