Komagatake - July 1989
As we had the use of the Company cottage in Kawaguchiko
for the week end, Gary Henderson and myself decided to climb Komagatake,
2,956m, in the Central Alps. Leaving Kawaguchiko at 8-30 a.m.
we took Route 137 for Kofu and picked up the Chuo Expressway.
This took us North-West to Lake Suwa, and then South-West as the
road headed for Nagoya. Exiting at Interchange 24, Komagane, we
turned right and went 3 km up the valley. There are several parking
lots and a bus service up the narrow twisting road to the cable
car station at Shirabidaira, and we crossed over the large bridge
spanning the river and parked. Private cars are not allowed to
go up to Shirabidaira, which is understandable when you experience
the narrow hairpin bends on the way up.
Arriving by bus at Shirabidaira Cable Car Station
After paying the parking charge of Yen 300 for
the day, we purchased a combined bus/cable car ticket for Yen
3,000, and within 30 minutes we were at the cable car station
at Shirabidaira. The cable car, built in 1967, carries passengers
up 950 meters to a height of 2,612m at Senjojiki, which is at
the foot of a cirque surrounded by a mountain ridge of 2,700m
to 2,900m. This is a spectacular spot and is the destination of
many of the "mountain viewers" who come up in "city
clothes". Surprisingly many people dressed in such ordinary
clothes also climb the ridges, which is not a great idea bearing
in mind that there is still snow around even in July!
Top of the cable car, Senjojiki 2,612 m
We started our climb at 12 noon, heading off to
the west from Senjojiki. We traversed a snowy slope until we reached
the ridge at Gokurakudaira at 12-40 p.m. after a leisurely climb.
Skirting along the ridge we came to a stone cairn
where we had our first rest, arriving at 12-55 p.m.
Heading away from Gokurakudaira towards Hokendake
Heading towards Hokendake, 2,931
The track is well defined and ropes keep climbers
off areas to either side to protect the tiny alpine flowers that
cling on to the barren rocks. The climb had been easy so far,
but the next stretch to Hokendake, 2,933m, was quite tricky traversing
over a steep broken ridge aided by ropes and chains. It was not
particularly difficult, but enough to remind you that great care
has to be taken in the mountains at all times!
Quite a few people were resting at Hokendake, and we had it in
turns to climb on top of the highest chunk of rock. This was not
dangerous as it was not exposed, but it does make you feel a bit
nervous without any support.
Dropping down from Hokendake we reached the two lodges on the
saddle, Hoken Sanso and Tengu Sanso, at 2 p.m. The trail leads
up hill again to a small peak called Nakadake at 2,925m from which
Komagatake can be seen up ahead. Bewteen Nakadake and Komadake
there is another saddle with a lodge and a camping area. We quickly
covered the last part of this hike and reached our target, Komagatake,
at 2-45 p.m.
Hoken Sanso and Tengu Sanso
Hoken Sanso and Tengu Sanso
Looking back to Hokendake from Nakadake
Komagatake was somewhat of an anticlimax after
the exciting ridge climbing around Hokendake. It is a rather flat
peak with two small shrines on the top, and as the sky above was
turning ominously dark we did not dwell there too long.
Shrine at Komagatake with Hokendake
in the background
Returning to the lodge via Nakadake we struck off
along the easterly ridge. After 2 minutes we came to a red marker
with a trail going off due South signposted Senjojiki. The first
part was a zig-zag path descending over broken rock which had
been supported most of the way by wire mesh cages of rocks to
build up the edges. Soon, however,we reached the top of a very
long tongue of snow which led right down to the cable car at Senjojiki.
Several people were waiting here, trying to decide
how best to get down this rather steep snow slope without slipping.
The well prepared had crampons to attach to their boots, but the
descent was not too bad if you carefully followed the boot prints
of previous climbers. About half way down it began to rain heavily
making the remainder of the descent very unpleasant. Back at the
cable car station by 4 p.m. we were able to change out of our
wet shirts and were soon heading back down to Shirabidaira for
the bus ride back to the car.
Although Komagatake is a long way from Tokyo, the
ease at which you can get up to Senjojiki at 2,612m and the beautiful
scenerey around the cirque make sit well worth while.