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


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

Hike and scramble hut to hut to Mt. Nishihotaka and Mt. Tsurugi in Japan's Northern Alps, to experience some of most spectacular mountain scenery that the country has to offer! Many long and short trails with steel ladders and chains will offer intense physical challenge and will reward you with incredible mountain and ridge views, and great food in huts. Carry only a daypack for multi-day journeys.

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 24, 2021 — Tue, Aug 3, 2021
  • Global Adventures Committee
  • Global Adventures, Scrambling
  • Adults
  • Strenuous 4, Technical 5
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 31.2 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 6,850 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 6,500 ft
  • Pace: 2 mph

Arrive no later than the evening of Saturday, July 24, 2021 in Hotel Sunroute Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan. We will have an optional tour in Tokyo on July 25 and prepare to pack up all the necessary things in a pack.  We’ll transfer to Kamikochi on Monday, July 26, then hike/scramble until Friday July 30 when we take an afternoon bus and trains to go to Takayama. Will scramble Mt. Tsurugi. We will visit the Historic Village of Shirakawa-go, one of the World Heritage sites in Japan on 8/1. We will return to Shinjuku, Tokyo on August 2.  On Tuesday August 3, participants can depart back to Seattle, or proceed on their own to other explorations in the area!

Itinerary Highlights: 

This 11-day trip includes Tokyo and Takayama (Gifu) area tours and exploring Japan’s Northern Alps, the most popular destination for hikers and backpackers. We will stay 3 nights in 3 star hotel in Tokyo and 2 mountain huts in Kamikochi, 1 hotel in Shinhotaka, 2 nights in a lodge in Tateyama, and two night in Takayama .  

The first day, we will have a relaxing day 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 and Tateyama.  We will spend last two days to explore Takayama and one of the World Heritage sites, Shirakawa-go.

We will meet in Hotel Sunroute in Shinjuku,Tokyo evening on July 24. We stay in this Hotel two nights.  Most of your flight arrives in Tokyo late afternoon. We will have a relaxing day to prepare for 5-day trip in Northern Alps on July 25. Participants will be able to choose to tour Takeshita street where the young people are attracted to go and old town of Asakusa to see a famous temple. Next morning, we will leave our luggage at our hotel and take only a daypack to take an express bus for 5 hours to Kamikochi, Nagano. For the next 3 days, we will hike and scramble the route and traverse from Mt. Okuhotaka to Mt. Nishihotaka and take a cable car to descend to Shinhotaka Host Spring. From Shinhotaka hot spring, we will move the destination to Tateyama to scramble Mt. Tsurugi.  

First day we will hike up to Dakesawa hut to stay for 2.4 miles and 660 feet of elevation gain to our first hut. Tuesday, July 27, we have a long day and hike 6.5 miles including a scramble with the chains and ladders to Mt. Okuhotaka and about 3000 feet of elevation gain. We will stay at Hotaka lodge. Next day, we will traverse the rugged ridges from Mt. Okuhotaka to Mt. Nishihotaka for about 2 miles, however, this is very challenging ups and down steep ridge scramble technical 3 and 4. You need to be comfortable with some exposures. It will take about 8 hours. During the traverse, you will see spectacular view of surrounding mountains. We will take a cable car to descend to Shihodtaka Hot Spring area and stay in Hotel Hotaka. On day four, we will move to Tateyama in Toyama prefecture by a bus and a train. Then we will take a cable car and a bus to the trailhead, Murodo. We have a long day to Murodo and walk 15 minutes to our lodge, Mikurigaike Lodge.  Their host spring bath has spectacular view of mountains.  On Thursday July 30, we plan to scramble up Mt. Tsurugi (2999 m) and on the way back to our lodge we will try to summit several mountains such as Mt. Betsu, Mt. Masago, Mt. Onanji, and Mt. Oyama . Next day, 7/31, we will move to Takayama to explore the Old Sanmachi street and the World Heritage site, Shirakawa-go. Monday August 2, we will take a bus home to Hotel Sunroute in Shinjuku. We will get our luggage and take it to the assigned room.  We will have a farewell dinner together.  On Tuesday, August 3, participants can catch a fight back to Seattle or decide to stay more to explore Japan.

For maps of the route go to the following Gaia map links:

Almost all the meals are provided except the days we have to move to another destination and the first day you arrive.  Our hotel in Shinjuku includes breakfast.  On 7/26 since we have to leave Hotel early, we cannot eat breakfast at the hotel so participants buy their breakfast and lunch at a convenient store near the Hotel. At mountain huts and lodges, bedding and all 3 meals are provided so we only need to carry a daypack with a sleep sack, clothing, water, water filter, snacks, poles a helmet, microspikes, an ice axe (depending on the snow condition), scramble gears and our Ten Essentials for emergencies.  We will be able to leave luggage at our hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo and come back to it at the end of our Northern alps trip and stay in the same hotel. The following meals are not included in the trip cost, so the participants need to buy the meals ahead of time of the traveling. The traveling to another destination days are 7/26 (breakfast & lunch), 7/29 (lunch), 7/31 (lunch), 8/1 (lunch), 8/2 (lunch).  

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 and beginning of August, the warmest month of the year in the region. (However, weather in the Alps is notoriously fickle even in summer, so weather can range 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, sunbreaks can be expected even on rainy days and the July-to-early-September ‘high season’ is considered to have the best weather to visit.  Some snowfields may remain by late July, so we’ll bring a helmet, trekking poles for stability and microspikes and an ice axe for crossing snow sections. 

Lodging:   Three nights in comfortable 3-star hotels, and 4 nights in mountain huts and rustic lodges with limited amenities. Other 3 nights will be in Japanese Inns.  Most nights will be in dormitory style co-ed bunk rooms except the hotel in Tokyo.

Food:   Japanese breakfasts and dinners are included on almost all of our trip days with the exception of the day we leave for Kamikochi because we have a very early departure on July 19.  I recommend that participants buy your won breakfast and lunch at a convenient store near the hotel so that you can eat on the bus. Some lunches are not included in the days we change our destination, so participants need to prepare their lunch at a store.  It will be very difficult to accommodate dietary preferences/restrictions including food allergies on this hut route in Japan, so if you have to have special meals, this trip will be very difficult.   

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 also led her first Global Adventure scramble trip to Japan in the summer of 2019.

Strenuousness or Difficulty rating:  This route is rated strenuous and technical 3 to 5, due to some very rugged terrain, some 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 10 people, minimum of eight, 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, ice axe and trekking poles.  Recent experience with multi-day strenuous backpacking and mountain scrambling with technicality 5, 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 trip profile, attached.

Trip Price Detail$2800 including all lodging, ground transportation in Japan (buses where part of the main itinerary), and 3 meals along the trek except first day breakfast and lunch and some lunches on traveling days to another destination.  Your airfare (~$1500), travel insurance ($75-350), lunches, drinks and a few other meals in town (~$250) are not included. International medical and emergency evacuation insurance are required.  Cancel for Any Reason insurance is strongly recommended given Covid-19 related uncertainty. Please read this Overview of Travel Insurance document to understand your options.   

Registration Instructions: Please complete and submit the online application form below, which will then be forwarded automatically to the leader.   After the leader’s approval, please pay the $1400 deposit in order to hold your space on the roster. Registration will open on January 1, 2021 and will close at the end of February 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, 2021 


Cancellation Policy:  If you cancel after the Mountaineers have paid their transportation deposit, you will be eligible for a refund of your payment up to that time less a $460 cancellation fee.   If you cancel less than 7 days in advance of trip departure you will not be eligible for a refund.  The above cancellation penalties may be waived if someone takes your place on the adventure, but the agreed refund would only be paid after the new person is fully registered.  ** If we are not allowed to travel due to continued restrictions by the US state department and/or the government of Japan, or if the Mountaineers determines that it is still not safe to travel, the  Mountaineers retain the option to roll the trip forward another year but if the trip can't be rescheduled or you decide not to join, the above cancellation fees will apply.


Hike and Scramble in Japan's Northern Alps

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

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


Trip Reports