Last weekend I did my first real winter hike, up Mount Daibosatsu (2057 m) near Enzan in Yamanashi prefecture, Japan.
Last year I did two hikes on Daibosatsu with friends, but on Sunday we went back for a mid-winter hike in the snow. It’s a longish train ride from Tokyo to Enzan, where we caught a 30 minute bus ride to the foot of the mountain. In winter many of the mountain roads may be closed due to snow, so we had to hike two hours just to get to a hut which in autumn served as a bus stop for our hike then.
Because it had been raining or snowing for two days, I was wearing rain gear on top of several layers instead of the usual trousers and winter jackets. I bought a pair of crampons (Evernew EBY015 L, 6 pin, L size) as recommended by a friend, which worked really well on the snowed in mountain. There were about 30 cm of snow in the higher regions.
We left Tokyo by Odakyu line before 05:00 and got off the bus near the mountain around 08:00. After about half an hour on roads above the village we put on the crampons for the snowed in trails and forest roads. Around noon we got to the ridge (Daibosatsu-toge, 大菩薩峠) and had lunch, then headed on through the deep snow to the top to enjoy the view and take pictures. Tellingly, the only other hiker we encountered up there was wearing snow shoes. With everything covered in snow and no other sounds except for some wind, the echoes from the mountains were amazing.
Mount Daibosatsu was one of my favourite hikes last year because of its views, but this last hike was very special. Fog was sitting in many of the lower valleys all around us while all the trees were covered in thick white snow that everything had a January calendar picture feel to it, but the best was Mt Fuji. I told my friends, I would have hiked the whole 18 km for the views of Mt Fuji alone. Somehow it seemed bigger or closer than ever and the light that surrounded it was magical.
Descending was much easier than climbing, as the snow acted as a friction brake. We descended in 2 1/2 hours versus 4 hours for the climb. We enjoyed food and drinks at a restaurant at the bus stop in the company of two other hikers. I am sure this won’t have been my last hike to Mt Daibosatsu.
(All pictures taken with Canon PowerShot S95)