Mt. Yari (槍ヶ岳)
Mt. Yari is one of the most famous peaks in the Kita Alps, and on the ‘must climb’ list of just about every Japanese hiker. Its remote access means that it’s impossible to do as a day trip, unless you fancy hiking over 40km in one day!
The hike: From Kamikochi bus terminal, take the trail that heads toward Kappabashi, but instead of crossing the bridge, stay on the same side of the river. You can basically follow the signposts toward Yari-ga-take (槍ヶ岳). It’s 22km one way from Kamikochi to the summit of Mt. Yari. Most guidebooks say to allow 2 days to get there, but if you get an early start (around 6am) you can make it in one day. The elevation change is only 1600m, and the first 14km or so is pretty flat. Anyway, your first landmark will be Myoujinkan (明神館), a famous hotel about an hour from the bus terminal. After that, you’ll come to Tokuzawa lodge and campground (徳沢ロッヂ). Continue following the river until you reach Yokoo-sansou (横尾山荘). This is the halfway point distance-wise to Mt. Yari. From here, the trail starts climbing a little, reaching Yarisawa lodge (槍沢ロッヂ) in about an hour. This would be a good place to stay if you’ve gotten a late start, but if you’ve brought a tent then continue for another half hour or so to the campsite. This site is behind a lodge that was destroyed by an avalanche, and there are plenty of places to pitch your tent, lots of water, and toilets. Before deciding whether or not to camp here, consider that you’ve got about 4 more hours of hiking before reaching the hut just below the top of Mt. Yari. The path is easy to follow and will climb up the cirque toward the ridge line. If the weather is good then you should start seeing the spear-like peak of the summit. There are tons of switchbacks and paint marks on the rocks. The climb seems like it takes forever, but eventually you’ll end up on the saddle just below the summit. This is where you’ll find Yari-sanso (槍ヶ岳山荘). You can pay lots of money to stay in the hut, or pitch your tent a short distance away. Please note that the campground is completely exposed on the ridge and you may not be able to pitch a tent if the winds are strong. Drop your pack at the hut, and prepare for the final climb to the summit. There are lots of chains and ladders, but just follow the crowds and arrows and you’ll be on top in no time. The views are exhilarating, so bring your camera if the cloud isn’t in. Descend back to the hut. The next day, you have 4 options. You can either descend the way you came all the way back to Kamikochi, do the daikiretto (大キレット) ridge walk over to Kita-hotaka, continue on the trail next to the hut over to Sugoroku hut (双六小屋), or take the trail away from the campgound down to Yaridaira (槍平小屋) and Shin-hotaka hot spring.
When to go: This hike can be done from early May to early November. The earlier you go, the more snow there will be, so bring crampons if climbing before the rainy season or anytime in late fall.
Access: From either Takayama (高山) or Matusmoto (松本) stations, take a bus bound for Kamikochi (上高地). There are also direct night buses from Tokyo and Osaka, depending on the season. Click here for the bus from Matsumoto to Kamikochi. From Takayama you’ll have to change buses at Hirayu Hot Spring.
Live web cam: Click here
Level of difficulty: 5 out of 5 (elevation change 1675m)