Mt. Tateshina (蓼科山）
Mt. Tateshina is a knobby, dormant volcano rising northwest of Yatsu-ga-dake and features a bald rocky summit and wonderful panoramic views of the Kita Alps.
The hike: From the bus stop, enter the forest from the right side of the road (if looking uphill). The trail starts off flat, and then climbs through a lot of bamboo grass before flattening out after about 20 minutes. This looks like bear country, and I half expected to see a mom and cubs foraging through the snow, but no such luck. The top of Mt. Tateshina should shortly come into view as you approach the climb. The trail is very clearly marked and climbs straight up an old rain gully. If the weather is sunny then the trail should be relatively dry and easy, but I’m sure it becomes a river during a rain storm, so be careful. If you’re hiking before early May there’ll probably be a bit of lingering snow, so bring some light crampons for the decent. If it’s mid winter then you’ve got a tough climb and should consider approaching from the other side of the peak. Anyway, after about 2 hours or climbing, you’ll come to the summit boulders. It looks a lot like alpine territory up here, deplete of trees and lots of paint marks on the rocks. The trail curves around the right side of the summit, and you’ll see a mountain hut in front of you. The summit is off on a spur trail to the left. The entire peak is filled with huge rocks, so it’s a matter of scrambling across boulders once you’re up there. There’s a shrine in the center of the peak, as well as a lookout area behind that. If the weather is good then you’ll have an expansive view of Mt. Yatsu, Mt. Fuji, the Minami Alps, Kita Alps, the peaks of Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, and Mt. Asama. You can come back the way you came, or head over to the mountain hut, where you’ll find a connecting trail heading down the other side of the mountain. After about 20 minutes of steep decending, you’ll reach another hut called the Tateshina Sansou (蓼科山荘). This is a relatively nice hut, but was buried under a meter of snow when I went there. The trail splits in 3 from the hut, but you want to go left, taking the trail that leads away from the front door, toward nanagoume-ichinotorii（七合目ーの鳥居). The trail is easy to follow and goes through a lovely forest. After about an hour or so, you’ll come to the parking lot. I’m not sure if there’s bus service from here, but if you keep following the trail down, it will spit you out at the Shirakaba Int’l Ski Resort (白樺国際スキー場). In the winter, this is the best approach for the climb, as you can take the lift up and start your climb from there. This approach is much easier (and safer) than the initial approach described here.
When to go: This hike can be done year round if you’ve got an ice axe and crampons. If not, then shoot for a hike somewhere between April and early December. I’ve done this hike twice – once in May and once in early March.
Access: I’ve described 2 routes here. The first is accessible from Chino (茅野) station by bus. The bus takes about an hour, and winds its way all over Tateshina Kogen before arriving at the trailhead. The bus is very cute, looking like an old model-T Ford, and seats about 15 passengers or so. Get off at Tateshina-tozanguchi （蓼科登山口). Click here for the bus schedule.
Live web cam: Click here
Level of difficulty: 2 out of 5 (elevation change: 890m)