On the map this looks so easy – a stroll through wild high country with very little climbing required and a forest road to ease progress even more. On our multiple visits, though, it has been anything but easy.
The first time we turned back in a blizzard about two thirds of the way up after floundering around in unconsolidated early season snow laying loosely on the sasa. The weather was kinder on our next winter visit and we set off under a clear blue sky, at one point crossing the tracks of a bear that had clearly decided to ignore the urge to hibernate. It stayed clear all day and the summit gave us some good views in all directions. Jeff insisted on doing it on skis despite the almost complete lack of gradient and skiable terrain. I stuck to snowshoes and didn’t regret it – he only managed to get about five turns in and ended up walking most of the way back on a tiring day that ended in the dark.
We also tried it once in early autumn, following the description in the Japanese guidebook that waxed lyrical about the spacious and freshly cut trail. Big mistake. Reaching the radio masts was a breeze as we cycled along the forest road, but from then on it was a tortuous struggle through head high sasa that had completely overgrown the trail along most of its length. At times it was like fighting through a giant wire brush. Luckily the cooler temperatures meant that we encountered no ticks. We made it to the top, but then had to repeat the ordeal all over again to get back to our bikes at the radio masts. Classic type two fun.