A little past 4am? Before? People were already scrambling up the pitch black peak of Yarigatake.
I soon joined them. Climbing up a stone wall in the dark with a hundred other strangers. Perhaps only in Japan.
Like every other famous mountain Japan, there’s a little shrine at the top.
Just before the sunrise..
Just after the sunrise.
Here’s the actual sunrise.
Yarigatake Hut with Kasagadake in the background.
Looking south, aka the rest of the way.
I totally get why people do this. It’s an incredible feeling, at the top of the 5th tallest peak in Japan, mountains all around you glowing in orange as the sun pierces its way through the distant clouds.
After, I went back to the hut, had breakfast, packed my stuff, and began walking again. Bye bye Yarigatake!
The next big peak, Nakadake, with a slab of snow on its flank. This was in mid-August!
Peak after peak, Yari was already far off in the distance after a couple hours.
Minamidake hut, the last stop before the dreadful Daikiretto.
Here’s the Daikiretto in its entirety, a big gash in the Yari-Hotaka range with 300m vertical drops on either side. It’s a thin ridge that connects Minamidake and Kita-hotakadake, infamous for the numerous deaths over the years.
Looking back from about the halfway point across. The first half coming from Minamidake isn’t too bad, but the hard part began from where I took this picture.
Thank goodness for the fine weather.
Now, to climb 300m back up this rocky cliff.
People crawling across the rocks like ants.
Another way to climb up.
This was possibly the toughest part of the whole hike. Just a straight up climb that’s not enough to get the adrenaline flowing through you, making you realized how tired you are from the past day and a half of hiking you’ve done. eventually though…
I reached Kitahotaka Hut, at the other end of the Daikiretto. Here’s a view of the entire thing from the other side. Seems like a long ways from Yari, but I think it was only about 3-4km. Just the Daikiretto took me about two and a half hours to cross.
Stopped for a quick curry at the deck. How’s this for a meal with a view?
And bagged Kita-hotakadake, a 30 second climb from the hut. 3106m!
Unfortunately the going didn’t get any easier after this. Apparently the Hotaka range is known for being particularly rocky, and it definitely lived up to its fame.
Huge rock. Must’ve been about 4-5m tall.
I think this section between Kitahotaka and Karasawa, the next big peak, was just as rough as, if not more than, the Daikiretto.
I can’t even remember how I went down this.
The clouds began rolling in just as I got to Karasawadake.
Thankfully, this was the last peak before my accommodation for the night, the Hotaka Mountain Hut, nestled in a saddle between two 3100+m peaks.
I liked this hut a LOT better than Yari’s. Staff was more laid back, the common area much nicer with a big library of mountain related books, and a nice deck out front. Also they weren’t so stingy with their water like Yari. Heck, they even fully charged my phone for 200 yen, instead of just 30 minutes.
Karasawa Hut down below, where the bridge from Yokoo on day 1 leads to.
By dinner time, it got just as crowded as the Yari hut, but the food was way better and I slept a lot better too. To be continue in part 3, the last day of the hike!