A Kiwi Takes Flight(Part 1) – Mt Hotakadake(3190m)

“On a Mish” #13 A Kiwi Takes Flight – Part 1. Mt Hotakadake(3190m). Kamicochi Azumi,Nagano. 5.6.2013. This mission started with a 9346km journey from New Zealand to Tokyo,Japan. After arriving in the biggest city I had ever been to, It was time to get away from giant skyscrapers, and head to a place with giant mountains. Japan is a country that I thought was completely covered by large cities, and I was so happy when I found that I was completely wrong…

Mt Hotakadake(3190m) is located in Japan’s Northern Alps, and the closest major city is Matsumoto. Like on my trip to Yatsugatake I had the much needed assistance of a very skilled and knowledgeable guide, and like with Yatsugatake this trip would have been impossible without their help. From a train station on the outskirts of Matsumoto we took a bus into the park, and the start of the many excellent hiking tracks in the area. The drive into the Hida Mountains is incredible, as you leave the hustle and bustle of the busy city you are transported into a world of mountains, rivers, and pristine wilderness. To get to the base of the mountain involved hiking alongside the rushing waters of the Takahara River, and an overnight camp.

First View of Mt Hotakadake

Next was to climb into the large snow basin below the west face, and along the way we crossed over avalanche debris, left from the heavy snowfall near the end of Japan’s 2012/2013 winter. The hike for the day finished at a lodge located at the base of the west face, with a campsite cut into the snowfield near the lodge. Here we enjoyed the excellent view, along with several other climbers staying in the alpine lodge, and they were celebrating their mountain mission with a few bottles of Sake. As an early start was needed the next day, we retreated to the tent for some peace and sleep.

Early-ish the next day we made the most of the overnight freeze on the snow surface, and with crampons on from the tent, we set off to climb the third highest mountain in Japan. The sun arrived as we got to a saddle between Hotakadake(3190m) and Nishihotakadake(2909m), and from here the route changed. Above the saddle was a mix of scrambling on steep rock, with old ladders and rusty chains in places. The exposure to the harsh weather at over 3000m had taken its toll on some of the climbing aids, so in places it felt safer to climb the rock, instead of putting your faith in something that looks like it could break-off at any moment. A small ledge took us to the final scramble to the summit, and the reward was outstanding. With only two points higher in Japan, with the famous Mt Fuji(3776m) tallest, and Mt Kita(3193) only three meters higher than Hotakadake(3190m)…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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