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Newer Page 260 of 825 Older Full Trip Report
Japan Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Hiking

23 October 2016

Volcanic gas panic

Today I climbed one of Japans 3 sacred mountains located on the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.
The alpine route goes from Toyama, across, above and under the alps, back to Nagano where I was. Let me explain.
You take a train, then a cable car, then a bus, then an electric bus under a mountain (which I climbed instead, and went back to Toyama), then a cable car, then a cog railway, then a train.
So I took it to a place called Murodo, and got off, this involved a 70 minute ride on a slow train from Toyama up into the mountains, I took the first train, which meant waking up at 5AM.
I sure do wake up early a lot to do things in Japan. 5AM in Toyama streets was quite busy on Sunday morning with people coming home, the train however was not, a good sign!.
I was at the cable car station for the first car up, I had read about having to wait a long time to get on this, and Sunday is the busy day, so I was pleased with this.
At the top, I was in line for the bus, which left in 20 minutes....just enought time for the next cable car to arrive full of tour groups who all got to push in. These were exclusively Japanese tour groups, I know my mother will ask.
Anyway, they squeezed me onto the bus, which is then about a 45 minute ride along an amazing mountain road that climbs forever around constant twists and turns.
I dont know how they get the bus up here? I had to take a cable car, and the other side is a huge tunnel under a mountain that only electric busses can go on due to fumes.

Anyway, the bus stops at about 2000 metres in altitude, so only 1000 to go to the summit of Mount Tate!

The bus station is massive, and there are multiple hotels, restaurants and various lodges all over the plateu with an amazing view, and theres hot springs down the valley and volcanic gas blowing about. This is a big problem!
It seems in recent years the gas has caused most of the lodges to close. There are signs everywhere warning people. I suffered no ill effects, I also didnt get eaten by a bear.

Like seemingly all my days in the mountains, I went the wrong way! But was rewarded for doing so, my course was much more interesting, I came down the main path and a lot of that was actually concreted, although the last hour that way is also scrambling over rocks.
I think my climb took me over 2 other summits, it was hard to see most of the time, and then after about 3 hours I was on top Mount Tate. I saw no one until I got to the summit, there were about 5 people up there, and I passed a lot of people on the way down on the main route.

Then I just had to repeat the bus / cable car / train journey back home.

If you do the whole Alpine route back to Nagano, I believe its a very rushed 9 hour journey with very little time to do anything other than line up for the next leg of the journey.
However there is a very impressive dam on the far side of the mountain I climbed which I did not get to see. The entire route was originally built to allow this dam to be constructed, all the material was hauled up on cable cars.

I rate this attraction a solid 10 out of 10!

WARNING: there are a lot of photos below, get your scrolling fingers ready.

Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - My first mode of transport was a rickety old slow train that wound its way up the mountain. Still it stopped at every tiny station with no one at it.

My first mode of transport was a rickety old slow train that wound its way up the mountain. Still it stopped at every tiny station with no one at it. Most of those stations were a shed that was in the process of falling over.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - I was excited to get onto the first cable car.

I was excited to get onto the first cable car.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - This is the cable car, I think I am calling it the wrong thing. Its a cable drawn tram built on a slope. Not really shown is that it pulls a number of

This is the cable car, I think I am calling it the wrong thing. Its a cable drawn tram built on a slope. Not really shown is that it pulls a number of freight carriages below it, as its original design was to haul dam constructing materials up the mountain.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - I helped the driver.

I helped the driver.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - I helped him by spotting the end of the tunnel.

I helped him by spotting the end of the tunnel.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - We were now in the fog already. However it did not rain all day.

We were now in the fog already. However it did not rain all day.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - The alpine route is famous in spring for the snow walls, which are sometimes 15 metres high as depicted in this exciting diorama. It being Autumn now,

The alpine route is famous in spring for the snow walls, which are sometimes 15 metres high as depicted in this exciting diorama. It being Autumn now, there is currently no snow. There was just a bit of ice as you shall see.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - Perhaps today is the day to be eaten by a bear!

Perhaps today is the day to be eaten by a bear!


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - I treated myself to a filling breakfast of pocky. Remember I got up at 5am, got the train at 6 after walking a couple of kilometres to the station. It

I treated myself to a filling breakfast of pocky. Remember I got up at 5am, got the train at 6 after walking a couple of kilometres to the station. Its a long day!


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - The bus operator has done a Chinese observation deck trick. Because the view out the window is so often fog and cloud, they filmed a clear day, and pl

The bus operator has done a Chinese observation deck trick. Because the view out the window is so often fog and cloud, they filmed a clear day, and play that back on the tv in sync with where we are.
We even stopped to look at a waterfall across a valley, except all there was to see was whiteness, so we looked at the screen.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - The bus station at the top lets out into a mini shopping mall.

The bus station at the top lets out into a mini shopping mall.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - I was off and racing, first I walked around this volcano crater.

I was off and racing, first I walked around this volcano crater.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - Then I looked at one of the lodges that can still operate. Most have closed down due to volcanic gas panic.

Then I looked at one of the lodges that can still operate. Most have closed down due to volcanic gas panic.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - There are outdoor natural hot baths down there, but you are not allowed to use them anymore.

There are outdoor natural hot baths down there, but you are not allowed to use them anymore.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - Optical illusion, thats looking down at cloud, but theres also steam and gas coming out of the ground.

Optical illusion, thats looking down at cloud, but theres also steam and gas coming out of the ground.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - I chose to ignore all the warnings and push on!

I chose to ignore all the warnings and push on!


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - The view started to become excellent.

The view started to become excellent.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - Another look down into hell valley. They really call it that. But they call all volcanic valleys across Japan hell valley.

Another look down into hell valley. They really call it that. But they call all volcanic valleys across Japan hell valley.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - Instead of staying in lodges in the valley, you can pitch a tent. No thanks. But I thought this was the start of the main path to the summit of Mount

Instead of staying in lodges in the valley, you can pitch a tent. No thanks. But I thought this was the start of the main path to the summit of Mount Tate.
It wasnt, it was an alternate longer more difficult path. The tents are just pitched here because its an area safe from gas.
If you want to go up the main path, it goes right from the bus station.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - Next I crossed a small clear stream. I wore my proper boots today. And camo pants so I can hide from bears.

Next I crossed a small clear stream. I wore my proper boots today. And camo pants so I can hide from bears.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - I was enjoying the view!

I was enjoying the view!


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - Looking downwards at hell valley and some abandoned lodges.

Looking downwards at hell valley and some abandoned lodges.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - Every now and then the fog would clear for a few seconds.

Every now and then the fog would clear for a few seconds.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - This was the hardest part of the climb. I wasnt sure if I was on an actual path here, I found it again at the top of the next ridge. The path is gener

This was the hardest part of the climb. I wasnt sure if I was on an actual path here, I found it again at the top of the next ridge.
The path is generally painted rocks, but when its a rock slide, I guess the painted rocks slide away.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - After climbing up the rock slide, it was time for a snack, my Korean favourite Calorie Mate! I was excited to keep going.

After climbing up the rock slide, it was time for a snack, my Korean favourite Calorie Mate! I was excited to keep going.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - The path can be seen here on the left. I was relieved when I re found the path, going back down to go back up again would have been annoying.

The path can be seen here on the left. I was relieved when I re found the path, going back down to go back up again would have been annoying.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - But I still had a long way to go. Thats not even the summit!

But I still had a long way to go. Thats not even the summit!


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - The views were amazing. I keep repeating myself here. Shut up and scroll.

The views were amazing. I keep repeating myself here. Shut up and scroll.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - At the bus station theres a whole display on these critically endangered birds. I saw them in the wild. They feel nice to kick. I think they are fligh

At the bus station theres a whole display on these critically endangered birds. I saw them in the wild. They feel nice to kick. I think they are flightless.
I will call you, delicious mountain chicken, goes great with calorie mate and pocari sweat.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - The far side of a ridge near one of the summits has a mini glacier thing going on. It was cold now! I had my jacket off until this point, but ice crys

The far side of a ridge near one of the summits has a mini glacier thing going on. It was cold now! I had my jacket off until this point, but ice crystals were forming on my face in the wind here.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - I had the first of three summits all to myself. It had no view though.

I had the first of three summits all to myself. It had no view though.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - I was fairly certain this was the way to the main summit! It was an excellent but cold scramble.

I was fairly certain this was the way to the main summit! It was an excellent but cold scramble.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - And this is what I was looking for, the gateway to the summit shrine. You used to have to pay 500 yen to go to the shrine on the summit, but I guess w

And this is what I was looking for, the gateway to the summit shrine. You used to have to pay 500 yen to go to the shrine on the summit, but I guess with the lodges closing down and the volcanic gas panic, theres a lot less climbers. The payment counter was boarded up.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - 3003 metres, which 9852 feet. To get to here took about 3 hours, only one hour of that would be high intensity, the other 2 were medium intensity clim

3003 metres, which 9852 feet. To get to here took about 3 hours, only one hour of that would be high intensity, the other 2 were medium intensity climbing....according to my heart rate monitor.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - The shrine, in a rare moment of no fog.

The shrine, in a rare moment of no fog.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - Me with some ice crystals on my face. I wiped frozen snot from my nose.

Me with some ice crystals on my face. I wiped frozen snot from my nose.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - Me again, what a view of whiteness....

Me again, what a view of whiteness....


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - Me and the shrine.

Me and the shrine.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - Now I realised I had gone an alternate way, as there were other people coming up the main route.

Now I realised I had gone an alternate way, as there were other people coming up the main route.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - A bit below the summit theres a shelter cut into the cliff. I still dont know how they construct these things. Helicopter?

A bit below the summit theres a shelter cut into the cliff. I still dont know how they construct these things. Helicopter?


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - This is the path to the summit shrine, the light gives it an end of the world aura.

This is the path to the summit shrine, the light gives it an end of the world aura.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - Thats actually looking downwards. It was a fun first half of the descent.

Thats actually looking downwards. It was a fun first half of the descent.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - But then it turns into a concrete path. The rest of the way was quite pedestrian. Glad I came up the other way by accident.

But then it turns into a concrete path. The rest of the way was quite pedestrian. Glad I came up the other way by accident.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - Looking behind me still had some great views, no bears to be seen though.

Looking behind me still had some great views, no bears to be seen though.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - Last one of view.

Last one of view.


Japan-Tateyama-Kurobe-Alpine-Hiking - Murodo bus station, you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Now just 3 hours of transport back to the hotel.

Murodo bus station, you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
Now just 3 hours of transport back to the hotel.


NewerPage 260 of 825OlderFull Trip Report