Kitadake

If you are considering a hike in Yamanashi, consider Kitadake! This is one of the best hikes I have done in Japan to date. The hard work and money were worth the views of Fujisan alone. Kitadake in the Southern Alps is one of the nihon hyakumeizan, or Japan's 100 most famous mountains. Kitadake is the second tallest mountain in Japan, standing at 3192 meters, only second to Fujisan. Both happen to be in Yamanashi along with the 4th tallest. My ascent was the first week in October.

tree
The weather was perfect for the first 1/2 of the hike

The trail is very natural except for the occasional ladder I encountered during the 1/2 halve of the hike. The hike is a steady climb from the start and only gets steeper until you reach the "Kata-no-Koya" mountain hut where I lodged for the night.

koya2f
The very tight sleeping quarters on the second floor of the mountain hut

This hut was much more primitive than the huts I stayed at Tateyama and Hakusan. The hut I stayed at for the Tateyama hike was the only hut I have stayed at that had a bath. Other huts have had TVs separate rooms with a handful of people staying in each, and running water. This hut had no running water and the water that was available for washing, etc. was 100 yen per liter. The toilets unlike the other huts were out houses. And all the hikers slept in one big room on the second floor. That night the temperature dropped below freezing and it started to hail a bit. In the morning I woke about 5:15 by the rustling of hikers getting ready. I then headed down for breakfast and to watch the sunrise.

fujisan1
Fujisan as seen from out mountain hut 5:30 a.m.

fujisan2
Fujisan during sunrise

From the mountain hut the trip to the peak took about 30 minutes. I spent about an hour at the peak just relaxing.

koya
"Kata-no-Koya" mountain hut from the approach to the peak

fujisanclouds
Fujisan from the peak of Kitadake

photographer2
A photographer readies his tripod for some shots of Fujisan

photographer1
Another photographer snaps some 4x5s at the peak of Kitadake

photographer3
Another photographer captures the colors of the fall leaves

kouyou

The very next day at work I looked out the window and notice that Fujisan was suddenly and almost completely covered in snow! There was not a flake to be seen the prior day! The southern Alps where I hiked also got a lot of snow the night that I returned. Talk about great timing!