Sadly this year the southern Japanese Alps are very difficult to access. All the mountain roads are closed, the buses aren’t running and some municipalities outright announced they don’t accept any climbing notices. So basically you either have to walk in all the way from one of the still accessible mountain passes, or go for the mountains “at the edges.” Since I wasn’t in the mood for a 30km approach just now, I decided to take the latter choice and climb Mt Kai-koma.
Mt Kai-koma’s name comes from Kai, the name of the Edo-era fief mostly current Yamanashi, and “koma” (駒) which stands for “horse” and is a very common name for mountains (see for example Aizu-koma I climbed last year), so much they get prefixed with area names like this.
The trail up from the Yamanashi side is called the Kuroto ridge and is a famous as a tough climb. It’s about 10km of distance one way and a whopping 2700m of ascent. I decided to test my new tent (a Slingfin Portal) and try myself at solo tent-hiking. I’ve of course stayed in tents before in longer expeditions and I’ve camped at Kirigamine last month, but this was the first time that I’d carry all that stuff all by myself up the mountain. I used my 85l pack as I wanted to go safe (in retrospect: it was a huge overkill so I took my 35l bag to Tsurugi the next week), but otherwise my gear was pretty light.
While the route was steep and long, it also had some more exciting spots climbing around or up boulders. There was also lots of up-and-down which just added to the drain. Nonetheless I made it to the campsite in five hours, where I set my tent, chilled a little then went for the summit.
Above the campsite the path gets much more rocky as larger vegetation retreats (sadly the bugs stayed). As this is a “standard trail” the less safe spots were reinforced with chains. While the summit was cloudy, so unlike from Mt Houou last year, I didn’t get to see the amazing scenery of the southern Alps, there were still some windows in the clouds on the other side allowing some pretty nice views of the Yamanashi basin.
The way down the next day was cloudy as well with some clouds sitting right on the ridge, threatening rain. Luckily I got down to the trailhead without getting wet, but then I dropped my boots and let the cold mountain stream cool my steaming feet. Overall it was a great hike, and I might go back for seconds sometime (with smaller gear, though not doing a day-run).