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Ascent of Kita-dake on 2012-09-28

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Alan Bernier
Duane Gilliland
Adam Helman
Adrian Rayner
Andrew Tibbetts
Date:Friday, September 28, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Bus
Peak:Kita-dake
    Location:Japan
    Elevation:3191 m / 10472 ft

Ascent Trip Report

The day after our Aka-dake (Yatsuga-take) ascent we take the train to Kofu then the midday bus to the terminus (N35.69712 E138.27103) near the NE trailhead of Kitadake, arriving just before 2 pm. The drive is very impressive, with the narrow road hugging the contours of an implausibly steep wooded valley, reminiscent of Taiwan. At the trailhead we split into 2 parties. Andrew, Alan and Adrian (the A team obviously!) hike up to the 226m hut and camp there. Duane, Adam and I spend a leisurely afternoon at the campsite just across the bridge from the bus terminal. There is a hut and shop here, and the Kitadake trail starts at its LH side (N35.69760 E138.26836, 1528m, signpost).

Fri 28 Sept we start hiking at 05:02, a short while before first light. The trail is steep almost all the way to the hut, with a few flights of steps, mostly YDS1 with some 2+. In 20 minutes we fork R at N35.69382 E138.26424 (signpost) and at 06:37 we reach the hut (N35.68617 E138.25240, 2226m). We recognise Alan's packed rucksack but the A Team are already away up the hill.

We continue after a short break, immediately reaching a small pool with some tents set up. We fork R at a signpost (N35.68559 E138.25235) and ascend a steep trail up a broad gully, in a light drizzle - quite refreshing but could make for an unpleasant summit. Near the top we turn R at a signpost (N35.68410 E138.24381) and soon arrive at the ridge (N35.68478 E138.24241), where to our surprise, Andrew and Adrian are waiting. Alan is making the out-and-back ascent of Mt Kotaro, and Andrew waits for him while Adrian joins us as we hike the pleasant, fairly gentle ridge towards the main summit. A highlight for me is a little group of Ptarmigan (or whatever these birds are called in Japan). They are as confiding here as in the UK and I follow them up the path, taking a series of fairly bad photos. We soon reach a large blue hut (N35.67956 E138.23776, 3013m) and the sun starts to break through. The ridge continues, with a few steep sections, and passing a minor summit we are soon at the top, at 12:03 in 4 hours.

There is a signboard, a post with the summit elevation, a triangulation point (block); the highest point is a few metres further on, a small tilted block (N35.67439 E138.23885, 3199m) next to a small cairn. There are some very nice effects with sunlight playing on the clouds which gradually clear; there is a sun halo (not quite a Brocken spectre), then the minor summit appears, then a window down into the valley, although it never clears completely and Fuji remains hidden.

2 Japanese girls arrive and take a group photo of us and we of them. By now, Alan and Andrew have arrived. Andrew makes a brief presentation to Adrian for having organised and led our trip, which proved very successful, getting us 8 ultra-prominent summits during our 2 week trip. The gifts include a book describing Japans Hundred Famous Mountains - so Adrian may have to return...

Alan decides the "official" summit i.e. the signboard is good enough and sees no need to do the trivial 10 metre walk to the actual high point. A bit of a debate ensues ... the summit-fetishists insist he must not only walk over to the summit but actually touch it! While my own practice is to visit the highest point I don't really go in for the touchy feely stuff and don't entirely see what the fuss is about. Alan subsequently goes off with Andrew to bag Japan's 4th highest point, 3189m Aino-dake, 2 miles further along the ridge which involves going close to the highest rock, although apparently he doesn't actually touch it...

After a very pleasant albeit slightly controversial hour on top in the sunshine, the remaining four of us head back down at midday. Duane and Adrian visit the out-and-back summit Alan went to earlier while Adam and I head straight down, arriving at 13:56; Duane and Adrian at 15:00 and Alan and Andrew about 20 mins later. We pack up camp and catch the 16:30 bus back to Kofu, again being impressed by the dramatic scenery, with a bonus view of Fuji rising above the town, where Adam, Andrew, Duane and I take a hotel for the night while Alan and Adrian head for Tokyo as they have earlier flights home.

Saturday, Andrew and I fly back to the UK. Adam and Duane were to head for Taiwan, having arranged to climb Yushan before returning to the USA, but learn just in time that the Yushan trail is closed due to typhoon damage.

Kitadake photo album

Tokyo photo album
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:1738 m / 5711 ft
    Extra Gain:39 m / 131 ft
    Distance:12 km / 7.5 mi
    Route:NNE ridge
    Trailhead:NE trailhead  1531 m / 5023 ft
    Grade/Class:YDS 2+
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Drizzle, Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:4 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:3 Hours 55 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO resposibility or liability from use of this data.

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