Mt. Goryu(五竜岳)

Mt. Goryu is a peak many have stared at from Goryu/Hakuba 47 ski resorts, but few have thought about climbing out of season. A venture beyond the slopes, however, will reveal a magical alpine world filled with flowers, alpine lakes, rocky peaks, and stunning views.

The hike: From Kamishiro station, walk out the front door and turn right on route 148 in front of you. Walk about 100m and turn right at the next stop light. This street will take you all the way to Escal Plaza, the start of the hike. You’ll pass by Hakuba Alps guesthouse, as well as countless other pensions and hotels. It should take about 20 minutes of road walking before reaching the ski resort. There is a gondola that will whisk you up to the top of the ski resort in only 7 minutes. The problem with the gondola is the start time. The first one isn’t until 8:15am on most days (and it doesn’t even run between May 15th and June 28th!). Click here for info. Anyway, it’s darn near impossible to do this as a day trip unless you camp in the ski resort. I recommend camping at the bottom of the Dai 2 & 4 (アルプス第2) ski lifts. Set up your tent on the wooden platform under the lifts and enjoy the awesome night view of Hakuba village. You can follow the forest road that cuts through the ski resort. The next day, just continue following the lifts up to the high point of the resort. From there, follow the signs towards Mt. Kotoomi (小遠見山), which should take about an hour to reach. The panoramic views of Mt. Kashimayari, Mt. Goryu, and Mt. Shirouma are fantastic. From here, the signpost says it’ll take 6 hours to reach the summit, but you can do it in less time if you’re fit. Follow the ridge line for several hours. If the weather is good then you can see exactly where you need to go. There’s a lot of up & down, and be careful of crevices if there’s any remaining snow. Just before you reach Mt. Nishitoomi (西遠見山), you’ll find a small lake with a beautiful reflection of Mt. Goryu. The path between NIshitoomi and Mt. Shiro (白岳) is steep, exposed, and covered in snow most of the year. During the month of May, you can easily bypass Mt. Shiro and go directly to the hut by traversing through the deep snow, but be careful of snow slides. Once you reach the top of Mt. Shiro, you’ll meet up with the main Shirouma-Oomachi trekking route. Turn left and descend steeply to Goryu hut (五竜山荘). You can buy water here and stay the night if you’d like. Take a break, because the biggest climb awaits you. The map says to allow one hour to reach the summit, but if there’s remaining snow it can take twice the time. You’ll basically be rock climbing most of the way, but it’s not too bad compared to some other peaks out there. The views from the summit are incredible, and you’ll see all the way out to Mt. Fuji on a clear day. You can continue trekking over to Mt. Kashimayari, or head back to the hut. If you’ve got a few days, then you can head the other direction over to Mt. Karamatsu towards Mt. Shirouma. If you’re a sucker for punishment like I was, then you can head back down the mountain the same day. I descended from the hut to the ski resort in less than 2 hours, thanks to the massive amounts of snow remaining.

When to go: This hike can be done from Golden Week to mid-October, when Goryu hut is open (五竜山荘). There will be a lot of snow if you go before July, so bring crampons and an ice axe and do not attempt in bad weather. A winter ascent is also possible, but be careful of avalanches in the col below Mt. Shiro (白岳)

Access: From Matsumoto (松本) station, take a local train bound for Shinano-omachi (信濃大町). From there, change to another local train bound for Minami-otari (南小谷). The trains are not very frequent, so take care when planning. Another option would be to take a Limited Express train to Hakuba (白馬), and either backtrack on a local train or take a taxi to the ski resort.

Live web cam: Click here

Level of difficulty: 5 out of 5 (elevation change ~2100m).

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10 Comments on “Mt. Goryu(五竜岳)”

  1. Julian Says:

    So you went up Goryu as planned and had great weather on Friday? That was a long day. The ridgeline path looks to be bare of snow. If one follows this path instead of cutting across the snowfield on Mt Shiro, are crampons/ax still necessary at the moment?

  2. wesu Says:

    the photo is deceptive. check out the web cam to see the current snow conditions. Goryu is the knobby peak in the left part of the picture, with a huge snow saddle between it and Shiro-dake, the smaller peak to the right.

    Approaching from Happo ski resort is probably easier, but then you have to deal with the steep descent of Mt. Karamatsu.

    the final ridge climb up to the summit is relatively free of snow, but there are a few patches of ice that must be crossed, so crampons are better to have. the summer and winter routes are completely different, and I spend most of the climb from the hut to the summit on an unmarked trail, scrambling over loose rocks. it wasn’t too bad going up, but descending was a bit challenging. i slipped at one point and starting sliding down the snow at lightning speed. luckily, i used my axe to self arrest. i wouldn’t be here today if i didn’t have that thing on me.

    the path from Goryu ski resort to Goryu hut is still 90% buried in the snow and the only way to get up to the main ridge line is to cross a huge snow field, where crampons are highly recommended. i only had 6-crampons (as opposed to the full toe to heel variety) and they were sufficient.

  3. Wes, that’s pretty impressive to have got up and back in a day! Glad you got back safely.

  4. Julian Says:

    Thanks for the advice and full report on your new blog, which, together with the webcam link, have firmly persuaded me to stay away for another month. You’re lucky still to be here thanks to a successful self-arrest!

    I didn’t realize the winter and summer routes were different, and clambering over rocks without a path does not appeal! I don’t take an ice-ax with me on the principle that if one becomes necessary, then I’ll turn back as I don’t trust being able to stop myself as you did.

  5. Colleen Says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation :) Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Colleen

  6. Damian Says:

    “There is a gondola that will whisk you up to the top of the ski resort in only 7 minutes. The problem with the gondola is the start time. The first one isn’t until 8:15am on most days (and it doesn’t even run between May 15th and June 28th!)”

    If you want to skip the gondola and start the hike from the very bottom:

    – If you are moving quickly without long breaks you can reach the summit in 4.5 hours (4 hours is my fastest). The return trip sans gondola takes 4 hours.

    – You can drive a short distance up a road parallel to the gelende. Take the least left before you reach Escal Plaza and follow the steep hill. Park near two small wooden cabins and walk out onto the ski run, following the gravel track all the way to near the gondola top station.

  7. Chris Ward Says:

    I’m toying with the idea of trying to climb this on Sunday. I have a book in Japanese of day hikes in Nagano and it has Mt. Shiro in it. Do you basically follow the path for Mt. Shiro then go over the top? That’s what it looks like, but thought I’d check.

    Thanks for any advice you have,


    • wesu Says:

      I’m guessing your guidebook has the approach for Mt. Shiro via the Goryu ski resort?

      Yeah, after you reach the top of Mt. Shiro, you’ll descent rather steeply down to Goryu hut. From there, it’s a steep 1hr hike to the summit of Goryu.

      Please note that it’s a long way to go for a day trip (over 8 hours or hard hiking if you’re really fast. 12 hours or more if you’re slow). If you can, try to camp at the top of the ski resort the previous night so you can get an early start.

  8. Chris Ward Says:

    Did the hike as far as Mt. Shiro last Sunday. I climbed up from the bottom of the ski resort and the round trip took 10 hours, including breaks. The service “road” up to the gondola was a hike in itself, not sure what could get up that other than a tank. Even more demoralising was that because I got a late start for various reasons the gondola started running while I was still only halfway up!

    The ridgeline out to Mt. Shiro is a great hike. Not sure where the lake is – I saw a brown pond with some trash floating in it, but that was about all. It was foggy all the way up, though, so nothing to reflect.

    I really wanted to carry on to Goryu but my legs were shot and I’d have been descending in darkness. You could do it in a day if you started at first light and had a bit more energy than I do!

    All in all, a great day out. Thanks as always to the info on this site.

  9. damian Says:

    Chris Ward – congrats on a 10 hour round trip to Shiro. As commented above, I used to jog/hike to Goryu and back in 8.5hrs and I can tell you that there was nothing pleasurable about it. I think 10 to Shiro return sounds like a good pace to both make it a day trip and enjoy the ridge along the way (which I highly recommend in aki).

    Regarding the service road, indeed I have only ever seen tracked vehicles negotiating it road in summer, and they grind their way up and down at that. It is a narrow beginner ski run in winter. The ski area is the steepest part of the descent as well, on tired sore legs.

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