Time  7 hours 18 minutes

Coordinates 2333

Uploaded April 22, 2014

Recorded April 2014

7,153 f
3,703 f
6.62 mi

Viewed 575 times, downloaded 4 times

near Tatsuiwa, Gunma (Japan)

Day hike to Hotaka-yama, Gunma prefecture.

Until few days earlier the forecast was rain but it changed to clouds so with a slight hope we might be above the clouds there was no longer anything holding us back.

On our way to Kawaba ski resort we were met by the thickest of fogs restricting visibility to no more than 5 meters, barely enough to distinguish the limits of the winding forest road.

We reached the ski resort and entered its multistorey parking lot. A couple of cars were also present, probably hikers also planning to ascend Hotaka the next day.

Due to the clouds and the relatively long trail to a convenient spot I relinquished the idea of seeing the sunrise from the mountaintop. As a matter of fact it was already day when we lazy hikers rose from slumber at 5:15.

We started hiking from the parking lot about 1 km lower, in front of the entrance of a campsite. From the start it was hot, probably even above freezing and I needed no gloves most of the day, I was so hot I folded my pants to make some shorts. Now I have bright red sunburns and regret no having used thin summer pants instead of the double-layer winter ones.

The trail had a lot of signs and tapes on branches, it would have been impossible to get lost. With clouds above us we had nothing to see, after a while stretches with steep slopes made the ascent a bit more fun, so I tried running uphill and then waited for the other members (I felt it was better than walking at a slow constant speed).

After a few kilometers the clouds above us became thinner and as we reached the top of a ski lift the sun appeared behind the clouds. I expected then there was hope to see blue skies later in the day.

We followed a ridge with few trees barring the view however the veil of clouds was still occluding everything. Then little by little some openings materialized and when we reached the level of the highest ski lift we had views towards the West ridge, Kengamine to the North and the other Kengamine to the East. From time to time we could perceive mountains from the Tanigawa range.

Until the last ski lift we were the only human beings on the trail but that changed once we started to go up towards Kengamine. Before the last part we put on the crampons in anticipation on the following descent which was supposed to be the most technical part of the day. We also switched the trekking poles for the ice axe... however there was nothing remarkable technically there and after 1 minute we packed again the axe.

After going downhill for a short while with direct views on massive cornices and snowy slopes threatening to trigger an avalanche if anybody ventured too close, we started the final ascent to Hotaka. Removing the crampons which had been practically useless, I felt lighter and darted to the summit, dropping everybody behind me.

At the summit the clouds were getting thicker at first to the point I gave up the idea of taking a group picture there. I attempted to go to a secondary summit a bit more East but the snow was threatening to fall below me and start an avalanche so I gave up and returned to Hotaka. The skies were randomly showing some blue tints in an ephemeral fashion leaving us dubious about the chances of a good shot.

When returning to Kengamine suddenly the skies cleared and revealed the mountains to the West including Tanigawa among others. A the same time a perfectly circular rainbow formed around the sun and it just fit in the frame.

After a series of nice shots with blue skies we passed kengamine and within a split second the mist had regained its ground and reclaimed the sub-2000m world. What is amazing is that there was not a single bit of wind this day, making it very hot.

When we reached the ski lift we started to walk on the ski slopes but were stopped by the staff and forced to use the lift to return to the bottom of the mountain, parting with 800 yen in the process.

It put an early end to the hike but as the mist had settled again there was nothing better to do but get back to the car as soon as possible.


Parking lot: 6:22
Takate yama: 7:07
Nishimine: 8:55
Kengamine: 10:00
Hotaka-yama: 11:21
Kengamine 13:06
Ski lift: 13:40

Overall it was an easy hike, wearing improvised sorts on a snow covered mountain. From now on there will probably won't be enough snow any more to have fun.

More pictures here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/73pya07kcgxy1v3/pUi7GTLbJy

















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