Hike and Scramble in Japan's Northern Alps


Global Adventure - Hike and Scramble in Japan's Northern Alps

Hike and scramble hut to hut from Kamikochi to Mt. Yari through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in Japan. Many long and short trails with steel ladders and chains will offer intense physical challenge and will reward you by incredible mountain and ridge views, and great local food in huts. Carry only a daypack, sleep in hotels and mountain huts. THE MEMBER FEE SHOWN IS THE DEPOSIT ONLY - see further details under Trip Price Detail, below. (Remainder due March 1, 2019)

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers activity.
  • Sat, Jul 13, 2019 — Sun, Jul 21, 2019
  • Global Adventures Committee
  • Global Adventures, Scrambling, Day Hiking
  • Adults
  • Technical 4, Moderate/Strenuous
  • Challenging

Arrive no later than the evening of Saturday, July 13, 2019 in Hotel Sunroute Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan. We will have an optional tour in Tokyo on July 14 and prepare to pack up all the necessary things in a pack.  We’ll transfer to Kamikochi on Monday, July 15, then hike/scramble until Friday July 19 when we take an afternoon bus back to Shinjuku, Tokyo.  On Saturday July 20, we will have an optional tour to Kamakura and Enoshima.  On Sunday July 21, participants can depart back to Seattle, or proceed on their own to other explorations in the area!

Itinerary Highlights:  

 The Japanese Alps consists of three mountain ranges: the Hida mountains, the Kiso mountains and the Akashi mountains. These mountains contains some of the highest peaks over 3000 m. The highest mountains are Mt. Hotaka (3190 m) in Northern Alps and Mt. Kita (3193 m) in Southern Alps. Northern Alps rise near the border of Gif, Nagano and Toyama prefectures, known as the Hida Mountains.  Kamikochi is a popular resort in Northern Alps and the area offers the most spectacular views.  From Kamikochi, there are many trails to the different mountains, Many huts are available along the tails and bottom of popular peaks. Mt. Yari is the most popular destination in Northern alps.

This 9-day trip includes optional Tokyo area tours and exploring Japan’s Northern Alps, the most popular destination for hikers and backpackers. We will stay 4 nights in 3 star hotel in Tokyo and 3 mountain huts and 2 lodges in Kamikochi.  The first and the last day, we will have relaxing days or tour to urban Tokyo areas and old and historical areas near Tokyo.  For 5 days, we will be hiking and scrambling in Northern Alps in Kamiochi. 

We will meet in Hotel Sunroute in Shinjuku,Tokyo evening on July 13. We stay in this Hotel two nights.  Most flights arrive in Tokyo late afternoon. We will have a relaxing day to prepare for 5-day trip in Northern Alps on July 14. Participants will be able to choose to tour Takeshita street where the young people are attracted, or to visit the old town of Asakusa to see a famous temple.

The next morning we will leave our luggage at our hotel and take only a daypack on an express bus for 5 hours to Kamikochi, Nagano. For the next 5 days we will hike and scramble the route and make a loop to come back to Kamikochi.  

  • From Kamikochi, we will start by hiking a well maintained flat logging road along Azusa River for 3.8 miles and 656 feet of elevation gain to our first lodge, Tokusawa.
  • Tuesday, July 16, we have a long day and hike 6.5 miles including a steep hill for the last 1.2 miles to Kitahotaka hut. We will stay here an overnight.
  • Next day, we will hike up to Kitahotaka hut for 6.4 miles and 4264 feet of elevation gain for the second night. On the way to the hut, you will see spectacular view of surrounding mountains and a valley. Kitahotaka hut is famous for their delicious dinner.
  • On day three, we will traverse the ridge to Mimani-take. Here we will scramble technical 3 and 4 routes.  There are protective chains and ladders that assist you. You need to be comfortable with some exposure. After 1.3 miles of scrambling on and off, we will arrive Minami take.  Here we will have lunch. From Minamitake to Yari hut, the trail is relatively flat and easy and we will hike for 1.8 miles. We will stay an overnight at Yari hut.
  • On Thursday July 18, we plan to scramble up Mt. Yari (3180 m) next morning to see sunrise depending on the weather. After traditional Japanese breakfast, we will hike down for 11 miles to Kamikouchi and stay in Gosenshaku Lodge to have a nice meal and host shower and bath.
  • Friday July 19, we will explore Kamikochi area in the morning and head back to Hotel Sunroute in Shinjuku, Tokyo by bus. We will get our luggage and take it to the assigned room.  You can have dinner at hotel or go out for dinner. 
  • On Saturday July 20, our last day together, we will have optional tour to the seaside to see old buddha and temple in Kamakura and explore a small cave in Enoshima.  After coming back to the Hotel, we will have farewell dinner together.
  • On the morning of Sunday July 21, participants can catch a fight back to Seattle or decide to stay more to explore Japan.

 At hotels in Tokyo, bedding is provided but not meals. At mountain huts and a lodge, bedding and all 3 meals are provided. At Gosenshaku Lodge in Kamikochi, bedding and all three meals are provided so we only need to carry a daypack with a sleep sack, clothing, water, water filter (squeeze style), snacks, poles a helmet, microspikes, an ice axe and our Ten Essentials for emergencies.  We will be able to leave luggage at our hostel in Shinjuku, Tokyo and come back to it at the end of our Northern alps trip and stay in the same hotel.

NOTE:  As with any extended travel, but particularly in an area with unpredictable mountain weather and changeable trail conditions, our itinerary can change without notice and sections may be modified or dropped.  The priority will always be on safety for all participants. 

Time of Year:    We’ll be visiting during mid-July, the warmest month of the year in the region. (However, weather in the Alps is notoriously fickle even in summer, ranging from warm and sunny to cold, wet and windy in the span of a day or stay miserable for days.) The temperature in the high valleys ranges from the mid 45s to the low 75s during the day (weather on the high passes and huts can be considerably colder!) .  The region also receives its greatest precipitation during the summer months, but days are long, sun-breaks can be expected even on rainy days and the July-to-early-September ‘high season’ is considered to have the best weather to visit.  Still, some snowfields may remain by late July, so each participant will be expected to bring a helmet, trekking poles for stability and microspikes and an ice axe for crossing snow sections. 

Lodging:  Four nights in comfortable 3-star hotels, and 4 nights in mountain huts and rustic lodges with limited amenities.  Shared two-person rooms will be available on some of the nights (with shared bathroom down the hall) but some nights will be in dormitory style co-ed bunk rooms.

Food:   Japanese breakfasts, lunch and dinners are included on all of our trail days.  Participants will have the option to purchase sack lunches for the first and last day at some of our huts and hotels in Kamikouchi, though we may also stop at trailside cafes and huts for a meal or cappuccino and snack where available.  Lunches and drinks, and dinner on our free day in Tokyo, are not included in the trip price.  Ability to accommodate special diets and meal requests will be very limited.

Leader’s Experience:   Atsuko Yamaguchi has led many Mountaineers hikes, scramble and climb trips in U.S.  and many high school oversea trips to Japan.  She personally scouted this trip's route during the summer of 2018. 

Strenuousness or Difficulty rating:  This route is rated strenuous and technical 3 and 4, due to some very rugged terrain, some moderate exposure, and long days with significant elevation gain.    On many parts of this trail, the route ascends, descends or traverses steep rock faces and scree with fixed chains and ladders – those with a fear of heights or who are not confident with their balance will not find this trail a good fit.

 Limit:   Maximum of 8, minimum of six, including the leader.

Participant Requirements: Must be a current Mountaineers member with an up-to-date waiver on file. This outing includes strenuous hiking and scrambling on rugged terrain (including some steep moraine and scree slopes) for multiple successive days, so participants need to be in excellent aerobic condition with good balance and confidence traveling on rough, sometimes exposed trail with a pack, and with the experience and willingness to deal with some discomfort, cold and inclement weather for extended periods.  Occasional snowfield crossings may be involved, requiring microspikes and trekking poles.  Mountaineers scramble course graduates or climbing course graduates with recent experience with multi-day strenuous backpacking or mountain scrambling at a technical level 3 and 4, plus a positive attitude and a demonstrated ability to get along well with groups under demanding conditions, will be very important.   NOTE:  As a Mountaineers group we will operate as interdependent, capable travelers making our way together and helping one another succeed and be safe.  You are responsible for your own safety and that of your fellow travelers.  You must have the ability to navigate on trails with a map and compass.  See daily distance, elevation and technical difficulty here.

Trip Price Detail:   $2500 including all lodging, transportation (buses where part of the main itinerary), and 3 meals along the trek except first day and last day lunch.  Your airfare (~$1500), travel insurance ($75-350), lunches, drinks and a few other meals in town (~$250) are not included. All he optional tour fees are not included.  International medical and emergency evacuation insurance are required, at your own expense.

Registration Instructions:  Please complete and submit the application form.   After the leader’s approval, please pay the 50% deposit ($1250) in order to hold your space on the roster. Registration will close on Nov 30, 2018 or whenever the roster fills. A place on the roster can only be held with payment of the deposit. The balance of the trip payment is due by March 1, 2019.  After you register, please also submit the Liability Release and Trip Agreement.

Application     Trip Agreement     Release

Cancellation Policy: If you cancel because of an emergency, you may receive a refund less expenses incurred and a $100 administrative fee.


Hike and Scramble in Japan's Northern Alps

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

After receiving your deposit, the leader will send out a series of letters or emails providing information to help participants succeed on the trip, including recommended and required gear, recommended maps and guidebooks.


Trip Reports