Oct 16-18 Arasawadake 荒沢岳 - Peak Autumn Colors


Oct 16-18 Arasawadake 荒沢岳 - Peak Autumn Colors

Post by Adam »


3 people minimum (myself included), 5 people max

1) myself
2) Justin
3) Apple
4) Tivon
5) AB (confirmed)



My heart leaps thinking about this place. Arasawadake is a hidden gem buried deep into the heart of the Echigo-Tadami Mountains. The view from the top of the mountain during peak fall colors will be breathtaking. To the east are the stately mountains of the Echigo Sanzen; Nakanodake and Echigo-Komagatake. To the north and west are Lake Okutadami and an endless sea of mountains too inaccessible and rugged to ever be altered by the works of man (a rare sight in Japan). Perhaps we could count on less than one hand how many signs of human activity we can see from the top of the commanding view.

Based on more than one trip report from different years, this time of year will be right around the time of peak fall colors of a mostly beech and maple forest. Colors will be front and center, and as far as the eye can see. Our eyes will feast!


Getting here is not easy. The trailhead is only reachable by car 6 months out of the year due to deep snow. We'll travel through a narrow and winding tunnel that reminds me of Thunder Mountain from Disney. The trail up the mountain is a whole other story. It's steep and requires a good level of fitness. We will be huffing and puffing the whole way up. Map time reads 9:40 round trip. I will anticipate it taking us 11 hours (including breaks). That amount of time doesn't leave much room for error or long breaks, so we'll need to be near perfect. Along the route are 10 plate markers that indicate our distance to the summit (see photo).

On top of the fitness required for this trip, there are some precipitous slopes and traverses that we will need to cross. There is one section in particular that has will require us to use caution (the sawteeth). There are tree roots and chains to aid climbers along. It's less daring than Mt. Myogi. The chains are replaced every year and the route is well established and maintained. I don't forsee any unwanted surprises.

I'm more concerned about the fitness level on this trip rather than the technical bits.

This trip is for Intermediate Level and above only. There are a small handful of people I have climbed with in OCJ who I think can do this. It's possible that I will have to turn some people down. If we have never climbed together before, then I ask that you name 3 trips you have taken in the past (Japan or elsewhere) that reveal to me that you are fit enough to take this trip.

Helpful Links:

Local government information: https://www.iine-uonuma.jp/play/tozan_l ... adake.html

Excellent trip report: Read this! https://hikingbird.exblog.jp/30129670/

Second trip report: by a very fast hiker - http://21.pro.tok2.com/~acuphaicarz/arasawadake-1.html


Friday 16 October
19:00 - Meet at Asakadai Station
21:30 - Arrive at free camp, hobo pies & wine (fun!)
23:30 - sleep

Saturday 17 October
5:30 - breakfast (burritos & coffee)
7:00 - on road
sightseeing/kouyou/onsen in Oku-Nikko
19:00 - camp dinner Arakawadake Trailhead

Sunday 18 October
4:30 - burritos & coffee
5:30 - start hike
12:00 - summit or turn back
16:30 - base
21:00 - Tokyo

Event Grade, Safety (イベント等級, 安全)

Fitness Grade 8 - Very Severe
9:40 hours walking time, 9km & 1,200m altitude climb

Technical 5 VERY DIFFICULT - Intermediate (中級)
Minimal or occasional rock scrambling where hands are needed or there are fixed ropes, chains or ladders - frequent danger signs on the hiking maps. Cliff traverse sections with vertical or very steep drops. Serious injuries are uncommon and falls are not always fatal. A climbing rope usually not required.

Sign Up Conditions, Contact Details:

ALL members who wish to join must reply to this post. Spaces are allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis. Only 5 spaces are available. If you did not sign up in time I can add you to a waiting list, and there is still a chance you can join.

Things to Bring (持参もの)
  • tent (limited space, share if possible)
  • sleeping pad
  • sleeping bag
  • cup, bowl, spoon, mug
  • hiking boots
  • fleece/jumper
  • rain/wind gear (top and bottom)
  • gloves
  • hat
  • trail lunch
  • energy food
  • onsen towel
  • headlamp w/ spare batteries
  • day pack
  • trekking poles (optional)

Travel Details, Meeting Time & Place (旅行の詳細, 集合時間と場所):

19:00 - Asakadai Station (North Exit)/Kita-Asaka Station (East Exit) at McDonald's

Cost per person:

8,000yen - transportation (estimate)

OCJ is funded by 500yen event attendance (up to 3 days). Collected by organizer who sends half of that to the club PayPal account for website costs.

Arasawa map.jpg
burning maple.jpg
plate 8.jpg
hiking bird.jpg
living on the edge.jpg
verticle wall.jpg
steep chains.jpg
fruity pebbles.jpg
last bit.jpg
precipitous slope.jpg
Last edited by Adam on Thu Oct 15, 2020 8:54 pm, edited 17 times in total.

Post by Justink »

Looks good Adam. I’m in.
And ok with proposed schedule hiking Saturday.
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Post by applenyc »

Adam, I'm interested depending on the technical difficulty of the route. So you have an idea, I did a few day trekking at Yatsugatake from Mt Shiragare in the north to akadake by myself, Murodo and surrounding mountains in Tateyama, and Asahidake/Kurodake/akadake at Daisetsuzan, Mt Nikko-shirane in the past 2 months. What do you think?

Post by Abhijeet »

I will mostly be available for this. Count me in.

Post by tivon »

Hi Adam,

I am interested. Please include me in the list.

To demonstrate fitness level, are the following three hikes sufficient? All done as dayhikes in August 2020.

Kurobegoro from Oritate trailhead.
Tsurugi by the Hayatsukione ridge.
Suisho from Yumata Sansou.

Post by Vidal »

Hi Adam,

already 5 people inquired, so add me to the waitlist if you guys think I'm fit for the hike.

Post by Adam »

Justin, you have a seat.
AB, can you make it for sure...? Your words "mostly available" are ambiguous... Please clarify.
Tivon, that's a nice resume. You are A-OK to join.
Vidal, you are fit enough. I'll add you to the waiting list.

Apple, I sincerely wish for you to join. The list of mountains you gave me show that you are active, have passion for outdoors, and have (at the least) decent fitness. However, nothing on your list looks as challenging as Arasawa to me. By signing up for this trip you will be entering uncharted territory. Is that OK with you? Until we both agree, we can continue discussing and I will hold a spot for you in the car. I want to ensure this trip is a good fit for you. Please take some time to read the links I posted in the original posting and to answer my list of questions.
  • How many times have have you been on a route that had ropes or chains?
  • Have you ever done outdoor rock climbing? Did you enjoy it?
  • Have you ever hiked in mountains 10 hours or more in one day?
  • Can you recall ever ascending over 1000m of vertical in one day?
  • I know Akadake has some chains along the south face near the peak. Did you remember encountering those?
  • If and when you encountered them on Akadake (or any other mountain), how did you feel in those situations?
  • How easily were you able to get by them?
I am not overly concerned about the technical parts with the chains. Andy has done this trip and said there are a lot of tree roots and good placements for feet the entire way. The reports I have looked at say that the technical parts don't feel exposed.

More than the to the 3 or 4 technical bits, I am concerned about our timing. Due to the technical sections, it's not the kind of route I'd be comfortable allowing people to travel alone on. We'll all be staying together on this hike. That being the case, I want to avoid the situation where the group is constantly having to wait for one person to catch up while precious daylight burns. The rest of us are not especially fast, but we are able to travel at map time or a little faster when necessary. If we travel at less the speed of map time we risk being on the mountain into night (not the end of the world, but not my idea of a good time). We have very little daylight this time of the year (less than 12 hours). And to be frank, I'd like to try and get into the onsen at the end of the long day.

I appreciate you taking the time answering my questions and considering all of us other members.

Post by Adam »

Here is what Andy had to say about Arasawa.

"Arasawadake is not as bad as Myogi. The fixed chains going up are on rock that is not as steep as Myogi and there are large roots or good footholds/handholds on rock. I only remember the last section up the side to the peak which was short but steeper. We had big overnight packs but ok."

I'd say this is good news for anyone feeling uneasy about the technical bits.

The key to making this trip a success is to get an early start. We don't have to run up the mountain, but we'll need to be conscious of keeping a steady pace and avoid taking breaks. We should try to take breaks as an entire group, not individually. So, if one person needs a break, they should say so, and we all take a break. It'll be a real team effort. There are 10 metal markers that tell us the distance to the top. These will help us maintain a good pace and will give us some mini goals to push ourselves towards. Bring along some extra energy food and stash them in some easy to access pockets so you don't need to take off your pack. The technical spots will slow us down, as we need to do them one at a time. We'll want to be extra cautious here not to slip, especially when going down, but understand that we all have to keep moving along. The big wheel in the sky will keep turning regardless of what we do.

Apple, I am still waiting for your response to my previous message. Hopefully Andy's photos can give you a better idea of the terrain and help you decide if this trip is a good fit for you.

Below are shots from Andy's trip (in chronological order). Full packs, hardcore! I hope we get that weather too.

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Post by Andy OCJ »

It will be a physically tough hike for some and slow because of the chains etc. If wet it wil be slower.

Most websites recording details say around 9 hours total, or more (as you put on schedule) with ascent of 1250-1400m (actual depending on ridge). Trying to calculate from map it is 4 to 5 hours climbing probably. It will not be fast coming down due to difficult terrain.

Some nice pics here: https://tozan100kei.com/route/arasawada ... ndaira.php

Not for people afraid of heights, rocks, chains, but beautiful place and must do mountain if you have fitness and experience.

Post by Tamara »

Hey Adam,

I like the course, quite challenging, seems easy if only brings a daypack going to the peak. (the pictures showed a guy having a huge backpack might be difficult in narrow steep cliff rock and so slippery when wet, we need extra rope if chains not available on a rocky steep drop) you mention that the noontime schedule should be on the summit and going back to the campsite for dinner means Tents are on the lowland/campsite? means we don't need to bring our full metal jacket.
I went last week to Mt. Oyama, Atsugi, and its almost the same altitude, 1,252m done in a day hike 8 hrs, ascending is a typical forest trail with many leeches, descending from the Peak Shrine in a stairway rough stones type trail, I would say quite dangerous for those beginners, we did just a day hike 8-4pm (encounter one hiker bloody injured, heli doctor came and rescue team climb up) of course, every mountain is different.
I don't want to tell my capabilities or skillful enough, for I know I am better to someone and someone are much better to me, I love challenges, I don't like competition but I love competing within myself that I can do it., No pressure but with care. I'm Outrageous, Daring depends on challenges, Safety first is always my concern and I just want to have fun.
Somehow at least you know me, I am a difficult lady whatever it means I like it, I don't need to please no one, I am what I am, I know myself that's all., so I don't mind how you judge my performances in mountaineering. I'll make time on these events and I'd like to see and connect to the Beauty of Autumn in Arasawadake, so Count me in. Whatever the result, In or Out, it's fine with me, no worries, for sure keep me on a waiting list. All is well, Thank you ;)
Last edited by Tamara on Wed Oct 14, 2020 12:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

Post by Adam »

Tammy, you were one of the fastest members on the rope sections from our last trip together, and I have seen you slide through narrow caves like a lizard. You are also a Beatnik poet, did you know that? Your fitness level was not really tested on any trips we have taken together, but based on what what I have seen of you and what you did last week, I think you can handle Arasawa. I've added you to the wait list.

Apple and AB, please RSVP by Monday if you would like to keep your spot. Otherwise, I will give your spots to Vidal and Tammy Tuesday morning.
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Post by applenyc »

Sorry i did not receive any notice about this...

How many times have have you been on a route that had ropes or chains? Like a dozen

Have you ever done outdoor rock climbing? Did you enjoy it? No, Ive never done it, no indoor bouldering either

Have you ever hiked in mountains 10 hours or more in one day? Absolutely, I can hike 10 hours a day for 3 consecutive days no problem. At Daisetsuzan, I managed 8.5 hour average time in 7 hours... We start at high altitude already so it was not hard

Can you recall ever ascending over 1000m of vertical in one day? Not sure... Mt shirane in Nikko was consistently uphill/downhill, what do you think?

I know Akadake has some chains along the south face near the peak. Did you remember encountering those? Yes

If and when you encountered them on Akadake (or any other mountain), how did you feel in those situations? Something I need to get past...

How easily were you able to get by them? Ladders are totally fine. Chains and ropes are okay.

Post by Adam »

OK Apple, you have a green light. I will see you at Asakadai on Friday evening.

I just booked the car reservation. I got a full-size sedan versus a compact car, so we can be more comfortable while we sightsee on Sunday. I may also bring a Dutch oven for a big breakfast on Sunday. Between 5 people, the transportation should work out to be about the same (8,000 per person).

Sun dances everyone!

Post by Vidal »

I mildly injured my knee a few days ago and it looks like it won't be back to 100% in time for the trip, so I will be prudent and sit this one out.

Enjoy the trip peeps!

Post by Abhijeet »

F it. Count me in.

Post by Adam »


AB has finally confirmed, he will come!

It is set. We are (5) Justin, Apple, Tivon, AB, and myself.

Right now the weather is looking a little dicey. So I've thought of a few options for us to keep in mind. We should decide what to do on Thursday when we have a better forecast.

Plan A- Friday, camp at Arasawadake TH. Saturday, hike Arasawadake, camp at Ginzandaira CG. Sunday, sightsee by car (Kouyou viewing), onsen, dinner and return home.

Plan B- Friday, camp for free outside Tokyo. Saturday, sightsee (kouyou in Tochigi), local food, onsen, camp at Arakawa TH. Sunday, climb Arasawadake and return home (onsen and dinner if time, but not likely).

Plan C- Friday, camp 1 or 2 hours from Tokyo (free), Saturday, drive to Okukinu and camp in valley with onsens or hike to a very nice (free) mountain hut (fall colors should be getting nice). Sunday, drive on some forest roads and visit Lake Chuzenji where colors should also be nice. Return home.

Plan D- Same as plan C, but leave Saturday morning instead of Friday night (same price for car rental though, about 8,000yen per person).

**Top two forecasts are for the summit of Echigo-Komagatake
monday windy.jpg
Monday Tenkura.jpg
monday tenki.jpg
Last edited by Adam on Thu Oct 15, 2020 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Post by Justink »

Thanks Adam. Let’s keep an eye on the weather. However, I’d suggest option B but no strong opinions with other suggestions. Thanks again mate

Post by Adam »

Thanks for the note Justin. Whatever we end up doing will be fun for all (with your help of course).

There are still many uncertainties about what the weather will bring us this weekend, but I remain optimistic. Hang tough everyone!

Post by tivon »

Thanks. I also favor plan B if Saturday weather is not suitable for climbing.

Post by Adam »

Tivon and Apple, since Justin and I are old members, we were thinking to prepare a dinner and breakfast for the new members. Maybe there will be a small charge (usually like 500 - 1000yen). As long as you are OK with group meals, are there any items which you don't eat? If you can let us know by tomorrow, that will helpful.

AB, we know you eat everything.