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near Shinshuku, Yamanashi (Japan)
I had already been at the summit twice but decided to try a different trail this time. 寂ショウ尾根 is labeled as high grade and so attracted my attention.
The weather forecast was particularly good yet it had rained 2 days earlier and I didn't quite know what to expect in terms of snow conditions.
We started from Sasago station, walked a couple of kilometers on the road before we got to the trail head. Since the trail doesn't appear on the topographic maps the only trail I had on my GPS was one I had downloaded on Yamareco. Someone that guy made a wrong turn and I decided to ignore that. After a few hundred meters we merged with the track again.
From there we followed the ridge, it was warm and after a few minutes we took off the jackets and one layer of clothes was enough since it was above 0 and there was absolutely no wind.
The first part of the ridge is nothing special and not worth mentioning. The second half has rocky stretches and easy climbing steps are required to ascend. It is technically easy but it is not advised to go down this trail or even go when it is wet.
Here and there were opening in the trees which offered great views of Fuji-san and the South Alps.
At the summit trees obstructed the view to the West towards the South Alps but the view opened to the North and East, Fuji to the South was majestic. The summit is flat and was completely covered in ice.
After a hundred meters going down gingerly to the first intersection we put on the light crampons we had bought recently. From there the trail was exposed North and received no light, a thin layer of ice had materialized and it would have been dangerous to venture there without the added traction offered by the crampons.
To my surprise we met a bunch of people going up without crampons, their insecure steps clearly indicating the foolishness to venture in the mountains in the winter without the proper equipment.
Going downhill towards the first waterfall was fairly easy, from there we had to descend out of the trail to approach the biggest falls because the trail only allowed to see them from a higher point. A lot of big loose stones required particular attention yet solid trees all the way enabled a safe descend and later ascent.
We chose the "difficult" trail to go along the stream while there was another bypassing the falls. After that I decided to cut short the hike as the original plan was to climb up another summit but that represented more than 2 additional hours. The last part was uneventful and we reached the station in time to catch the train without waiting.
Overall a nice trail more technical than the usual hike with perfect weather and great views of the South Alps.
More pictures here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bymnwk036w2dyvp/AACz62WPZwFinmJ0zqnzFgJEa?dl=0