The hut appeared to be built in a somewhat different location to last time we were here! It seems to be dismantled every winter (to avoid snow damage) but we were surprised as to how different the scene was. There was also a sign warning of a landslide up the valley, but there were no actual "no entry" indications, and plenty of people around obviously intending to climb, so we assumed that there must still be a clear path.
the storms, the morning broke bright and early, and we got a good
start up the valley (just ahead of a huge gaggle of people. We bought
some of the cheap instep crampons on sale at the hut, at ¥1000 per
pair. They weren't really necessary, but did help us keep our footing
and are much lighter than our full 12-point crampons (340g vs 1050g per
pair). I was pleasantly surprised by how helpful they were and will
certainly take them again on borderline "might be useful" trips where
full winter gear is unnecessary.
I was struggling slightly with a cold, and it is a big steep climb, so I made the most of some opportunities to take pictures on the way up. We still made it to the summit and back to the massive Hakuba sansou for coffee.
In the evening, the weather seemed to be closing in and the forecast was for heavy rain, so we worked out a few alternative plans and went to bed with our fingers crossed.
|The next morning
was cloudy and damp but not actually raining, so we
set off along the ridge, startling a pair of ptarmigan (raichou) as we
Soon the cloud lifted, giving us views along the ridge (and all the way to Yari-ga-take if you know where to look) and by the time we got to the top of Karamatsudake (below right) it was a full-blown hot sunny day.
The two peaks behind me are Tateyama (left) and Tsurugidake (right), which we had fine views of throughout the trip.
Due to our efforts the previous day, we were at Karamatsudake sansou
rather early, so decided over an early lunch to continue to the next
hut. This next section of ridge was fairly gentle, with some scrubby
forest of "haimatsu" or Japanese stone pine (or dwarf Siberian pine,
pinus pumila). These lightly-forested areas at the top of the treeline
are generally airy and bright, with lots of birds, flowers,
butterflies, dragonflies and a wonderful pine aroma. I'm not a fan of
the thick forests to be found on the lower slopes of Japanese
mountains (there's no view) but the "haimatsutai" (tai = belt or
region) is lovely.
The Goryuu sansou looked well-prepared for the expected Obon influx. So this is how sardines are packed...but by being a week ahead of the main holiday period, we had this whole 16-person 7.5 tatami mat "room" entirely to ourselves (a tatami mat is about 180 by 90cm, or 6' x 3').
You can send us an email here