Jump to content

Recommended Posts

This thread rivals if not overtakes AK’s thread of shame, but for completely different reasons. 11.22-25.2007


My co-worker and I had been planning a trip to Tateyama for the last four weeks. We did beacon practice in Yoyogi Park (his first time using a beacon) and attended “Avalanche Night” by Japan Avalanche Network (JAN), to which Slow came along as well. We learned a lot at JAN.


So Thursday evening at 5:30, work was supposed to finish, but due to a printing deadline, we didn’t leave until 6:45. The tone for the weekend was set when at the car rental place I realized I hadn’t checked w/ him what kind of car he’d rented: one with summer tires and no 4WD.


OK, so we pick up his stuff at his place and are halfway to my place across town when he remembers his jacket. (Socks? Check. Extra socks? Check… Goggles and helmet? Check. I’m not even going to ask if you have your jacket…Hiking poles? Huh? Jacket?!). 90 minutes lost in traffic going back to his place to get it. Whatever, we could always abort the mission and go ski powder in Hakuba, I thought.


I put the hotel’s phone number in the car navigation and it said to go on some odd highway, though I recommend a completely different highway. We end up on some winding narrow mountain road from Nagano to Omachi.


We arrive at a hotel in Omachi I’ve reserved. 7 a.m the next morning, we try to drive from Omachi to Ogisawa in the rental, which is down to one lane due to construction. We obviously get caught the first batch of ice on like a 3-degree incline in the road. I try to push us over the little hill to no avail. Other cars are piling up behind us, so I suggest that he does a 3-point turn into the other lane shut for construction. We let the other cars pass and drive back to Omachi, look for parking, and wait for the next JR bus to Ogisawa.


He’s got his day pack (Burton AK). He’s just bought hiking poles, a beacon, shovel, and probe. He’s got an army duffel bag with two handles and a shoulder strap. Halfway through the alpine route (www.alpine-route.com), I can see he’s already struggling.


We get to Murodo Bus Terminal, and even though it’s a bluebird, I’m not confident in the snowpack. I’d told him it’s either a 10-minute walk and ski in to camp or a 45-minute up and down walk and ski in to camp. I don’t like the way the sun has been beating Tateyama proper all morning (death trap if it slides)—the 10-minute route— and opt for the safer, longer way into camp. Austin Powers is frequently quoted.


on a day like this:



He puts on my spare snowshoes (Atlas 2025) and I get the first use of my MSR Lighting Ascents. We’re both struggling. I'm stoked to use my new MSRs. We get to camp, dig into the snow to make a wind barrier for the tent, pitch it, and by now it’s 3:30. No time for a run. We hike up 200 meters to the lodge for an onsen. We come ski down 30 seconds (WOO-WHO!). There’s an all girls’ camp next to us, one of whom is freezing and huddled up in a sleeping pad and tent fly while her 6 friends are pitching their tent in darkness. We make hot chocolate for ourselves and I give her a cup. We get into our tent and warm sleeping bags. Thank you FT for the sleeping bag. He wouldn’t have made it through the night w/o it.


Saturday morning it’s still sunny but the clouds are rolling in fast. We make hot chocolate and get a thank-you-she’s-OK-now greeting from the girls next door. We head for I can’t remember name of the peak but everyone calls it “Gallery Run” b/c you can be seen from camp by all if you fall down the slope. Too many others are on Raicho-zawa. No one is skiing Raicho Valley proper (prolly due to the Avalanche Night put on the night before by JAN which describes the 4.18.07 slide on Raicho which killed one and injured two).


Fifteen minutes flat jaunt to the slope of Gallery Run and we take a breather. And I could’ve been skiing in Hakuba! Ha! An hour of hiking and wind picks up. I can see lines in Rachio Valley proper; someone must’ve checked that slope and thought it good. We’re on the windward side of Gallery and I want to get into the valley on the leeward side behind it, but there’s a 1.5 meter cornice (hucking over it not an option) or hiking up another 400 meters to top out. Time for Plan B. I check the stability of the slope that’s farther into the windward side and surprisingly do not find weak layers to be worried about. I thought we’d have had to ski down the slope we hiked up (Plan C) which would have been boooooooor-ring. Plan B gives us 60 seconds of fluffy heaven. Gee, I could’ve been in Hakuba this weekend.


Back to the tent and we melt snow for curry-in-the-package and break down camp. We don’t want to be stuck in traffic tomorrow, so we head for Murodo Bus Terminal the way we came. Arriving at the bus terminal in darkness (headlamps on), we rest in the bus terminal lobby and decide to spend the money on a hotel. We’re really roughing it now!


We attended the hotel’s iibento of the night, a four-piece band: two trumpets, two trombones and are the youngest in the room full of guests aged 55 and up. After the concert, peeps from some outdoor shop are there giving away prizes. By lottery number, his number is picked and he wins a brand-new North Face down jacket (35,000 yen). Very surreal.


We take the first alpine route to Ogisawa and are one the road to Tokyo by 11:30.


Three days, 1 line: Pathetic. The only saving grace of the wacky adventure was Austin Powers quotes he loves and jokes about Brokeback Mt. from which toque and ft have a love-hate relationship with so much. Give me all the shame, I can take it. The snowpack was tight; our equipment was working, but the stamina and time was just not there. So take it from me: don’t take people who aren’t ready to hike into the mts. for three days, and if you’re not ready to go, don’t let anyone take you.





crossing the river:



skied Gallery:


Link to post
Share on other sites

It sucks when you're ready and on time and others aren't. Regardless, you get an A for effort and thanks for the pics. You still managed to get a few lines. Did not know they had an onsen over there. That first picture seems to have some nice peaks in the background. Thankfully it did not seem "too" cold or windy.

Link to post
Share on other sites

alls well that ends well and you live and learn.


the snow was solid

none of my equipment broke

i wasn't too cold at -17 at night (-8 or so inside the tent)


yes, mike powder, hakuba is much more accesible with steeper and better lines then the first and last pics, even in may

Link to post
Share on other sites

Any other pictures Dizzy?

That is loads more snow that I have seen since figuring out this whole Tateyama place a few years ago.


Even with the "interesting" experience that you had, any bluebird fall day in Tateyama is something worthwhile. I never experienced it that is for sure. Was always whiteout for me. Cool you got out for some turns. Any day in the backcountry is loads better than a day spent riding the lifts.

-17 pfft

-30 this morning on my bike into work

Link to post
Share on other sites

-17 almost reminded me of home.


-80 F with the wind one day during high school finals in chicago. just going from my house to the car my eyebrows froze.


other pics of tateyama, i'll have to look. but yeah the friday bluebird was amazing. the guys camping on the otherside of us and some people near us on the hike out also said they'd never had or seen a better three days at tateyama. made me feel fortunate and angry at the same time.

Link to post
Share on other sites

No action shots.


The snowpack outside of the bottom of the ropeway: almost 1.5 meters there. Murodo had a base of 2.6 m. And most of that in like a week and a half.



View from the top of Murudo. "Hell Valley" and the sulfur that smells like Asahidake in Hokkaido:


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Create New...