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Kumotoriyama - March 1986

Location: Chichibu-Tama National Park

Duration: 2 days 1 night

Transportation to Start Point:
Train: Shinjuku - Tachikawa (Chuo Line) 40 mins
Train: Tachikawa - Okutama (Ome Line) 1 hr 10 mins
Taxi: Okutama - Walk Start Point 40 mins

 

This was to be our first winter hike with Ishikawa san and Uchida san to Kumotoriyama at just over 2,000m. As snow and ice was expected we had prepared with thermal underwear, Goretex rain suits and crampons. The weather forecast on the Friday was bad, with heavy snow being predicted, but we had all the necessary gear and decided to give it a go anyway. We were late starting so it was mid afternoon by the time we got to the start point so the destination for the day became Sanjo-no-yu Lodge.

The start point

 

 

Uchida san and Ishikawa san

Sanju-no-yu Lodge

The spartan lodge was bitterly cold, and soon after our arrival we stoked up the old wood burning stove to try to get some heat. This led to the demise of Phil's new thermal underwear! As it was wet, Phil threw his new thermal vest over the pipe leading from the stove expecting that the gentle warmth would dry it out. However, by the time I had stoked the fire up to its full fury, the horizontal chimney got quite hot and the front of Phil's vest was reduced to a mass of molten plastic! Although cold in this lodge, it did have one thing in its favour, and that was a natural hot spring bath out in a small hut at the back. It was great to luxuriate in the warmth of the water looking out of the primitive bath house over the snow covered forest, the only uncomfortable part being the slightly slimy feel of the water.

 

Breakfast at the Lodge

Ishikawa san tries the new crampons.

The next day we continued up the trail towards Kumotoriyama through really deep snow.
Climbing with crampons on was quite tiring, and we soon discarded them realising that they were better suited to ice than deep snow. Eventually we came to the base of Kumotoriyama and began the big push to the top. Although it took less than 30 minutes it was particularly steep and tiring and we literally collapsed in a heap at the top panting for breath. After that this part of the climb became to be known as "Coronary Hill"! It was nice to be in the sun at the top and the rocks that had been exposed to its rays were warm.
It soon became chilly as the wind got up and after a quick lunch we were on our way again to start the descent. Our route down took us past Bunazaka and Nanatsu Ishiyama, and from there we took a sweeping path down through the trees dropping down to the main road by the lake at Kamozawa. Having 20 minutes or so to wait for the bus we enjoyed a cold beer as we basked in the sun and admired the view across the lake.
A short bus ride took us back to Okutama for the train ride home. Kumotoriyama had been a tough climb due to the conditions, but it lacked the scenery of the Japan Alps. Nevertheless it was great to get out of Tokyo for the weekend.