Amidadake North Ridge (阿弥陀岳北稜)
The beginning of this winter season being surprisingly warm with extremely few snow, I only did my first winter alpine climb of the season last week-end at Yatsugatake (八ヶ岳) . We aimed for a low level start with two beginners routes starting by Amidadake North ridge(amidadake-hokuryō, 阿弥陀岳北稜) on the first day. Arrived at 1 AM at Minotoguchi (美濃戸口) parking lot, we just has three hours and a half of sleep at the back of the car before waking up and getting ready for the long approach walk to Gyōshagoya (行者小屋) mountain lodge to setup our base camp.
Even if I knew there was little snow, I was still quite surprised by the total lack of snow on the forest road leading to Yatsugatake-sansō (八ヶ岳山荘) lodge, where the North valley of Kitasawa (北沢) and South valley of Minamisawa (南沢) split up. We had to work for about an hour in the Minamisawa valley to see some snow and ice. Never seen! The lack of snow however didn’t make the approach walk easier…
The camp setup, we immediatly got geared up and headed to our objective. The main difficulty was to find the good approach to reach the ridge. The simplest compare to other traces we saw is certainly to follow, like we did, the summer trail at the entrance of the Nakadakesawa (中岳沢) gully which heads straight West and follows the small ridge West of the gully to then traverse the next gully straight up to reach Amidadake North ridge.
Once passed this orienteering difficulty to find the start of the ridge, you just have to follow it. With little snow, the ridge was more a walk through vegetation than climbing the knife snow ridge described in the topo.
After the ridge, a slightly steep slope reaches the base of two rocks. We climbed them easily and found ourselves quickly at the summit. Despite many climbs in the Yatsugatake range, that was in fact the first time for me to reach Amidadake summit, but a bit tired by the lack of sleep and another climb the next day, we quickly went back down to the camp site by the Nakadakesawa gully.
Amidadake North ridge is a beginner’s route and probably the easiest alpine route in the range (outside the regular trails). It is a nice route, not too short, perfect if you are bringing a beginner or are just beginning to lead a climbing party, or like us, as a warm-up for bigger adventures. Otherwise you will leave quite hungry for more.
Useful maps are:
1/25000地形図、 八ヶ岳四部、甲府9号-3、NI-54-31-9-3 (Yatsugatake-Nishibu, Kōfu 9-3, NI-54-31-9-3)
1/25000地形図、 八ヶ岳東部、甲府9号-1、NI-54-31-12-3 (Yatsugatake-Higashibu, Kōfu 9-1, NI-54-31-12-3)
or the 1/50000 map: 山と高原地図 八ヶ岳（蓼科・美ヶ原・霧ヶ峰）, Yama-to-Kōgen-chizu, Yatsugatake (Tateshina – Utsukushigahara – Kirigamine)
GPX file for GPS: amidadake-hokuryo.gpx.
Amidadake North ridge (amidadake-hokuryō) is a beginners route. If you have some experience, the biggest challenge will be to find the start of the ridge (without it being overly complex thought). If you are not sure, you always have the option to walk straight up the ridge slope to reach it. Once on the ridge, the climbing part is made of two short rocky sections following each other and located below the summit. Depending on conditions and your partner, it might be necessary to tie him/her in on the ridge, especially on the steep slope just below the first rock.
The two rocks are about 15 meters each. The first one is protected by three expansion bolts on the climb, the second has none and I didn’t found any place where to put any gear but in both cases the climb is easy. The first belay (on bolts) is made at the base of the second rock. The second belay is made on branches of Siberian dwarf pine (haimatsu, ハイマツ) after having crossed a narrow but very short knife ridge at the top of the second rock.
To go down from the summit, follow the summer trail North. The trail is rocky, narrow or steep in some places. You might have to rope-in your second depending of his/her level. From the Nakadake pass (the pass between Nakadake and Amidadake) it is possible to go down directly by following the Nakadakesawa gully. Be careful though with avalanche risk in that gully. Depending on conditions it will be safer to go over the small Nakadake to go down using the Akadake trail.
Information about Yatsugatake range and Tateshina
The route topo is available in the book チャレンジ！アルパインクライミング（八ヶ岳・南アルプス・谷川岳編） – Challenge! Alpine Climbing (Yatsugatake, Mianmi-Alps, Tanigawadake area) - ISBN-13: 978-4808307936
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