Purpose one: writing a travelogue to describe my various trips.

Purpose two: muse.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Japanese Alps: Tateyama and Murodo

Tateyama in the Evening

I'm back in town after spending a few days in the Japanese Alps. I went to Murodo and climbed Tateyama. Some maps refer to it as Mount Onanji, so I'm in the annoying position that I'm not sure of its name.

If you are in to the outdoors at all, and are going to Japan, try to make it to Murodo. Transportation will take you all the way to the huts at 2,500m/8,000'. You will use a combination of trains, cable-cars and bus. The steep cable-car ride is almost worth the trip by itself.

Murodo is a skiers paradise: tons of snow, accessible, nice huts, many bowls to choose from. The main drawback is that it has evidently been discovered by all the Japanese skiers. Climbing Tateyama was a little reminiscent of Shasta, with the ant trail going up.

From Murodo, you can make it all the way across the mountains to Omachi. That seems a cool route. I wanted to make it South to Kamikochi instead. It was easier for my plans to backtrack, so that's what I did.

View of Murodo from Oyama. You can see the tent village camp. Raicho-so is the building left and up from the camp. In the blow-up image, you will see lots of little dots, which are people.

The snow at Murodo confirmed a theory I have that the West Pacific is much colder than even the East Pacific. I suspected this from the cold temperatures in Shanghai, which is about the same latitude as San Diego, yet has a climate more like that of Portland. Western China was much warmer. In the mountains there, snow levels were well above 10,000'. In contrast, at Murodo, it was at 4,000' -- same as California in winter. Murodo is level with Los Angeles. We are in May, and the bus still drove through 20' snow ruts at 7,000'. Not enough to impress a Norwegian, but the locals seemed awfully proud of their steep snow banks.

In Murodo, I stayed at Raicho-so. I had accidentally picked the hut furthest from the bus terminal and it still added 20 minutes to my climb. It was cool to hang out in the Onsen tub, though.

Shrine at Oyama, 2990m

On the Summit of Tateyama

[Ed: In the original post, I confused the East and West Pacific. It can be confusing because the West Pacific is by the far east, and the East Pacific is by the US West coast. It's not difficult when you think about it, but appearently I didn't think about it.]

1 comment:

  1. HI there! How hard was it to climb Tateyama in the snow? I've hiked Mt Whitney, several peaks in the Sierras, but never needed crampons etc. We are going in June. Thanks in advance!