Time  9 hours 40 minutes

Coordinates 604

Uploaded January 21, 2014

Recorded January 2014

-
-
8,896 f
4,406 f
0
1.9
3.8
7.63 mi

Viewed 1360 times, downloaded 2 times

near Kokkai, Yamanashi (Japan)

Winter mountaineering hike to Gongendake 2715m

Within 3 or 4 days before that day I had considered 4 different options. I originally planned this hike but short of participants I was tempted to give up, join someone for rock climbing. Then another proposition about winter mountaineering popped up and was cancelled due to foul weather so I searched for other places and finally we ended up going for my original plan. Also this is the first real outing I do with Ota Mountaineering Club with more than just myself in the party.

The practical purpose for me was to test my newly acquired mountaineering equipment on the field, after so much mental masturbation about the statistics etc. it was time to put all of it to the test. Y-san being much more experienced than me, it turns out he became the leader and it was for the best.

Overall the weather was much more agreeable than what said the forecast, it was never -15 degrees nor was the wind any close to 15 m/s like I expected.

We spent a short night near Kobuchizawa station, I was lent a very warm sleeping bag fit for -25 degrees so I didn't even need my down jacket. The biggest error is that I had focused so much on the new gears and the cold expected for the next day that I forgot the earplugs… biggest mistake ever, never forget the earplugs again. Next to our tent was a camping car, and that motherf*** made such a noise that I'm not sure I even slept.

We then move to the trail head, during the winter it is a few hundred meters South of Tennyosan at the last intersection. The last bit of road leading to the parking lot is not shoveled and access is barred.

We could see the first light of the day while walking in the forest so I was anxious to miss that precious moment, sunrise. In the end the view expanded as we just passed the parking lot and at that moment the sun appeared so I have my good shots in the box at that time and it already made my day. However the fun was far from over.

Going back on the equipment thing, the Millet mountaineering boots insulated for comfort up to -20 degrees worked like a charm to keep my feet warm and dry. I didn't even feel anything when I put them on. The trail wasn't demanding at all but I tried a few kick steps and with just a few centimeters as foothold I didn't feel any tension in my feet so that added to the fact I didn't have any hot spots nor blisters for a first outing leads to consider they passed the test.

I knew already the trail since I've been there on November: http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=5601103. Yet there was no snow at that time and it was still before sunrise when we got to Gongen, so this time same trail but different experience.

The first half of the ascent is easy, in the forest with moderate slopes and not too much snow. We put the gaiters from the start of the hike but after a while I felt so hot I had to pull them off, but just leave them fastened at the bottom. In such events I confirm it's good to have this type of gaiters that can be fastened from the front instead of the rear. Then it got even to the point we packed the jacket, and were walking with just too layers. I have more clothes when I'm home because the apartment is poorly insulated and never warm.

When we got close to the ridge and after steeper terrain we put back the clothes on. The trees were now covered with snow and the contrast with the blues sky was striking. Following a very clear track- I wonder why I brought my snowshoes and the pair of wakan I borrowed because it was a given that with this good weather continuously all the way to the third day of the week-end the trail would be a highway (relative to the fact it's January mountaineering above 2000m, 50cm wide and 20cm deep tracks with packed snow defines a highway) we got to Mae mitsugashira easily. From there Akadake was in the clouds and we could only see Mitsugashira, to be reached soon. From there we put on the goggles and balaclava as we were expecting strong winds on the ridge. However it turned out the wind was much weaker than expected.

On the way from Mae Mitsugashira to Mitsugashira I suddenly felt surprised to see a big black rock on the trail. After a few moments trying to adapt my sight without my glasses I came to the conclusion it was a Kamoshika, my third. I turned to Y-chan and murmured "カモシカがいる" and took the camera out of its case to take a shot half expecting that this action would make it flee. However the animal wasn't impressed by our presence, I could see it noticed us and it didn't even move as we go closer. A kamoshika can easily reach 50kg and has pointed horns so we didn't want to get too close. Then we notice that there were tracks on the side of previous people who had to bypass the animal, indicating that it may have been there for a while already.

When we reached Mitsugashira the weather towards Gongen and Akadake was getting better but there were still some clouds. We put on the crampons and started using the ice axe. At that point I let the experienced Y-san go in front, followed by Y-chan and I took the rear. I never used an ice axe so Y-san quickly briefed me but there was to be only a small traverse and considering the traffic over the week-end the track was clear and stable so I didn't expect the ice axe to be of absolute necessity. Similarly the crampons were not critical since none of the track was icy. Overall it was a good way to start using the gear without really needing them.

From Mitsugashira to Gongen I had to pack the camera case since it was way too bulky to use with the ice axe. Originally I bought this insulated case because my camera is only guaranteed to work up to -10C and I expected close to -20C, but in the end it may not have been lower than -5C.

We passed the traverse with no problem and before we knew it we were on the summit of Gongen. The last part differs from the summer trail and is less steep. At the summit people were waiting for us to take the group picture, it is a narrow summit so a big group cannot fit. The view towards Amidadake and Akadake was then fantastic with only small white clouds hovering over the mountains.

We went back to Mitsugashira with ice axe in hand and after a while packed all the technical gear since it was now perfectly secure without crampons etc. The snow was slippery and the track very clear so what happened is that it was hard to take small steps and the best way to go down was to slide or even sky down. It was surprising to see how fast we could go down with heavy winter boots weighing close to 1kg on each feet. Before getting to Mae Mitsugashira we found again our friend the Kamoshika, it was still at the exact same spot 2 or 3 hours later.
However this time it felt impressed and decided to move downhill… but all that in a very casual fashion as if to say "let me take in the sun, I'm in no hurry" and shortly after he jumped to one side and left the trail so that we could go on with our race downhill.

We started from Gongen at 1:40 PM and were back to the car at 4:00 PM, considering the part from Gongen to Mitsugashira was done using full gears at slow pace, we did the remaining section at a very fast pace, probably faster than in summer.

Overall it was a fantastic day, with great weather, little wind and the temperature was warmer than expected. The objective for me was to test my new gear although in the end it would have been possible to reach the summit without it.

More pictures here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/qdpg8y4f8pjofuq/a48auXHP7V
Summit

天女山駐車場

Tennyosann
Parking

駐車場

Parking_lot
Waypoint

天ノ河原

Tennogawara
Summit

前三ツ頭

maemitsugashira
Summit

三ツ頭

Mitsugashira
Waypoint

Traverse

Traverse
Summit

Gongendake

Gongendake

Comments

    You can or this trail