The infamous Daikiretto (大キレット) from Shinhotaka is a difficult 2-3 day hike in the Northern Alps. The traverse is best approached from Minamidake and should only be attempted in good weather and in the main season from July to September. This hike is very exposed and requires scramble and climbing skills. If you're up for the challenge you'll be rewarded with amazing views and some really fun climbing.
Time: 15h (19:50h yamap walking estimate without breaks)
Location: Kamikochi/Shinhotaka, Nagano
Elevation Gain: 2870km
You can access the Daikiretto from both Kamikochi and Shinhotaka. Since Shinhotaka is easier to reach by car we chose that route.
If coming by car park at the free parking lot next to Shinzanso.
In the off-season the parking lot doesn't usually fill up, in summer it's almost always full by 9-10pm the night before. If it's full you can park at the upper ropeway parking lots which are also free. (We arrived at 23:30 on Friday and it was full)
If coming by public transportation take the bus to Hirayu Onsen and there change to the Shinhotaka bus.
Day1: 15km, 6h, 1800m elevation gain (Yamap estimate 7:30min)
Start from Shinhotaka ropeway and walk up the forest road past the parking lots on the right. The first 2h will be on the forest road and are pretty easy going.
After about 30min you’ll get to Hodakadairahinangoya (toilets, food and water here if they are open). Then it’s another 30min to the junction for Okuhotaka.
From now on you'll be on an actual hiking trail through the forest. Keep going straight and after about 1h you'll pass the shelter hut Takidanihinangoya. Its always open and also has a toilet, but it’s pretty dirty. Then another 1h to Yaridairakoya. Total walking time for us to Yaridairakoya was 2:50h.
The trailhead for Minamidake starts behind the large wodden deck of the hut on the right side. Be careful not to walk staright or you'll go to Yari. The hut is a good place for a break before going straight up for the next 3h to Minamidake. They have a water source and their lunch looked good too. We took a nap on the deck.
After the hut the next part is quite steep and you have to walk the remaining elevation to the ridge (abot 1000m). About 2h are in the forest and the last hour is above the treeline. Not much to say other than that it's really hot and I would recomend filling up your water at Yaridaira. Nothing technical about this part its just up up up.
Once you get up, we checked in at the hut and then walked the 10min to the peak of Minamidake. We got lucky and sunset was clear and beautiful.
Day 2: 12.5km, 8h, 686m elevation gain, 2566m down (12:20h yamap walking estimate without breaks)
Today we finally get on to the Daikiretto. Total time for us from Minamidake to Hotaka Sanso was about 4:15min, but we go fast and we started early, so we wouldn't have to pass so many "slow" hikers.
There are a couple of hairy spots, especially after Hasegawa peak. The rest was no problem and is well secured by bolts, chains and ladders.
Like I mentioned above this part of the hike is very exposed and has sections where you'll need to be able to hold your weight on a chain and climb down over an exposed trail. If you've never used a chain while climbing and can't hold your bodyweight on one when climbing down, I wouldn't recomend going this route. Daikiretto is more climbing than hiking.
Also it is generally advised to go from Minamidake to Hotaka Sanso, that way most of the chain and vertical sections will be going up.
After getting to Hotaka Sanso we had a longer lunch break and then went back down to Shinhotaka through the Shiradashisawa trail.
I honestly hate this trail with all my heart. I've gone down this way before in the rain and hated it but it's not much better in the sun either. The first 1/3 of the way is loose talus and there is no trail. You could call it boulder surfing because thats how it feels when a 500kg boulder starts sliding when you step on it.
Then next you have a short steep section throuh the forest (that parts ok) and then you get to a very exposed and tiny ledge along the valley. It's steep and the ground is very slippery and unstable. Honestly Daikiretto is easier, because there you'll have chains when needed. (To put it in perspective, I would rather walk Gendarme instead of this trail). It took us 2:40h down to the forest road and then 1 last hour back to Shinhotaka.
If you can avoid it I would recommend going down to Kamikochi through Dakesawa or Karasawa instead. It's way more enjoyable and you don't have to be so careful to not break your ankle.
Lastly don't forget to bring a helmet (the rock is loose and crumbly) and gloves for better grip on the chains.
I will also mention that most sites recommend walking this route in 3, sometimes even 4 days. I added some huts below which make good overnight stops.
Yaridaira: 13.000Y incl. 2 meals. Tent 2000Y. Reservation required only for the hut.
Minamidake Goya: 14.000Y incl. 2 meals. Tent 2000Y. Reservation required only for the hut.
Kitahotaka Sanso: 14.000Y incl. 2 meals. Tent 2000Y. Reservation required.
Hotaka Sanso: 13.500Y incl. 2 meals. Tent 2000Y. Reservation required only for the hut.
Elevation Profile & Map
If you have any questions leave a comment or message me directly through the chat!