Akadake (often romanized as Mt Aka) is part of Yatsugatake, it’s highest peak actually. The range is known for being “active” all year round. Other mountains get inaccessible and deserted as winter starts: buses stop running, mountain huts close until spring and so on.

The Yatsugatake range has lots of ski resorts and it’s a friendly place for people like me who want to try climbing in snow. I’ve had a weekend’s fun in Tateshina already (which is the northern neighbor of Yatsugatake actually), so now I decided to jump into the deep water (snow) and go for Mt Aka. I didn’t expect the difficulty I faced.

Getting there was funky in the first place. There aren’t many buses and a website listed wrong times for the Akadake line. I took the last Azusa to Chino and stayed near the station. Luckily I checked the time table at the bus station before going to the hotel so I noticed it was different. I asked the hotel staff to check for me what are the correct times.

At first I planned to stay at the Skygazer hut (赤岳天望荘), but that turned out to have closed the end of February. So much for that. Instead I stayed at the Gyoja hut way lower. Saturday the weather was great, and the forecast for Sunday was okay too.

Climbing up to the hut was no big feat. It’s not close from the Minotoguchi bus stop for sure (a 2.5 hour walk), but it’s not hard save for the ice on the path. I took the south way (南沢) up and the north way (北沢) down. I got up around 1pm, and decided to settle in. Once I dropped my gear, I went to see a scenic spot about a 10 minutes walk. Photos, then spent the afternoon reading Gaiman’s Ocean at the end of the lane (read it all).

The problem was Sunday. First, I had no crampons, just “chain spikes” which aren’t fixed or useful for steep climbing. Second, my boots were out in the entrance area of the hut, where they froze so in two minutes after putting them on I couldn’t feel my toes. I still tried to climb up the Jizo ridge, but I called quits when I couldn’t find any footholds any longer. Sad.