Week 9.5: Photo Essay - Summiting Yarigatake

Welcome to the second installation of the XX.5 Series! This series is dedicated to photo essays that will not fit on my Instagram. As always my slogan is more pictures, fewer words.

Our kind full time staff gave us two days off at the beginning of this week. We knew this ahead of time so Andy, who loves hiking, organized a hiking expedition. Eventually we settled on how many of us were going, three (Andy, Tyler, and me), and where we were going, Yarigatake. The peak of Mt. Yari is the 5th highest in Japan and very popular with Japanese hikers. We left NORTHSTAR early, around 4 AM, arrived at 5 AM, and were on our way by 5:30 AM.

The first four hours were relatively easy hiking, and we went quickly. The last three hours were very steep and we slowed down considerably. Up until the last 20 minutes we had not been treated to a view of the peak, only to a view of the Lodge, mocking us as we struggled higher.

It had been warm most of the way up, but as soon as we crossed over the ridge and saw the peak the wind almost knocked us over and the temperature plummeted. We had a quick lunch and began to set up camp. We changed and decided to give the peak a try.

It was a quick clamber to the top, though there were some spots where basic rock climbing came in handy. The view from the top was awesome. It was a fantastically clear day and it was even possible to see Mt. Fuji.

Coming down took a little more time as it was rather steep. Then we had dinner, which we had to be inventive about. One of our party forgot the gas for the stove, so we ended up eating lukewarm rice and curry. We were all too ready to set up our sleeping bags and prepare for the night. However, we had to see the sunset first.

The night was very windy and rather cold, but our layers and sleeping bags kept us warm. We planned on going to the peak for sunrise, but when we woke up at 5 AM it was still windy, cold, and now, cloudy. So we had oatmeal for breakfast and called it good.

Hiking down the mountain we got to see more beautiful views. We were tired at the end but we all firmly believed it had been worth it.