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).