Yarigatake 3180m in the off-season (槍ヶ岳) is a difficult snow hike with lots of elevation gain on the way up. With good weather you’ll have amazing views of the Northern Alps at the top. The last bit to the actual peak is technical and you need to be comfortable to climb rocks with crampons and axe.
Location: Kamikochi, Nagano
Elevation Gain: 2414m
If you want to hike Yari as a loop you can start either at Kamikochi or Shinhotaka.
We went from Shinhotaka to have the steeper sections on the way up and a more gradual descent the next day.
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.
If coming by public transportation take the bus to Hirayu Onsen and there change to the Shinhotaka bus.
Since you end this hike in Kamikochi you'll have to take the bus back to Hirayu and then change to the next one to Shinhotaka ropeway and get off at Shinzanso bus stop. It's a little annoying to take 2 buses but I always prefer hiking a loop instead of going the same way back.
Day1:14.6km, 10h, 2256m elevation gain
Start from Shinhotaka ropeway and walk up the road past the parking lots. Continue on the right forest road for a while. After about 45min you’ll get to Hodakadairahinangoya. Then it’s another 1:30min to the junction for Okuhotaka. Keep straight and next is Takidanihinangoya after another 30min, which is a shelter hut that is always open. It also has a toilet, but it’s pretty dirty.
Then another 1h to Yaridairakoya.
After that the steep ascent in the snow begins and it took us about 4h to Yarigatakesanso.
The first part is possible with just poles but quickly it gets too steep and you need crampons. This part was very strenuous. You walk straight up for 4 hours and you have to cover almost all of the elevation gain. The last part up to the hut felt never ending.
Keep in mind that all the huts are still closed if you go in the off-season, so bring enough water and food. I brought 2.5l and finished it all.
Then check in at the hut or set up your tent. We opted for hut as the ridge is always really windy and it’s freezing up there even in summer.
If the weather is good, you can climb to the peak. This part is a little sketchy as you have to climb on vertical walls with crampons and while holding your axe. If there is snow the chains are buried, so you can’t use them.
If you’re not experienced with mountaineering I would not recommend going to the peak in winter.
Day 2: 18.7km, 6h, 158m elevation gain, 1734m down
Today you have to walk all that elevation down again. Put on your crampons and use your axe. The first section is steep and if you start early it will be icy still.
It took us 1:30h to the campground. From there it’s less steep and we didn’t need crampons anymore. But we still used poles as some of the forest parts are very slippery/steep.
Then continue past Yarisawa lodge to Yoko sanso. From the campground to Yokosanso it was 1:40min.
I honestly find the next part along the river quite boring, maybe because it’s just too long. It’s 50min to Tokusawa lodge and from there another 1:40min to the bus terminal. You’ll also pass Myojinkan and Konashidaira campground. Both good options for lunch. If you plan on getting lunch I would do that before getting back to the “main” part of Kamikochi. It’s more busy and expensive there.
If you came by bus you can just go back, if you used a car like us, you’ll have to take two buses as described above.
If you have extra time I recommend the onsen in Hirayu, Hirayu No Mori. One of my favorite onsen in Japan, has sauna and is tattoo friendly too.
Yarigatake sanso: 14.000¥ incl 2 meals. Tent: 2000¥ per person.
Yarisawa lodge (if yarigatake sanso is full this is the only other hut that's open) price is the same.
Reservation for both required
Elevation Profile & Map
If you have any questions leave a comment or message me directly through the chat!