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
The start point
Uchida san and Ishikawa san
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.