The dog was not happy to be turfed out of bed at 3 am, and neither was I, but having been rained off last weekend I felt pressure to seize this dry window during the rainy season.

Route 20 was populated only by the long-distance trucks hammering along and avoiding expressway tolls, then the last 10 km of rough dirt shook off the vestiges of sleep.

I parked the car at the trailhead by an abandoned hut that was being devoured by the forest, and headed up. After 20 minutes of climbing, the trail temporarily broke out into a clearing that was the true end of the road, another 300 meters higher. Still, in a Honda Z weighing close on a ton but powered by only 660cc, perhaps it had been quicker to hike.

There appeared to be no one else on the mountain, and upon reaching the rocky summit of Yakushidake, the Southern Alps hit me with their rugged grandeur. A jagged ridge puncturing the sky with almost 100 km of trail stretching to Tekari at the southernmost end. Kaikomagadake was already bereft of snow, but Ainodake was still struggling to shake off the winter. And the main route up Kitadake (Daikambasawa, below) was still a lethal snow gully streaked with rockfall from the Buttress.

The open ridge to Houousan was one of the most enjoyable walks so far, with views as far as Norikura and Hakuba, and quiet save for the cascading snowmelt far below. I trotted along the white/grey gravel that gives the mountains their whitish appearance from the Chuo line valley, and on the return, met the first and only hiker (thanks for the photo, H).

It felt unreal to be back down in that valley and at work by 10am, looking up at where I had snatched a morning worth living.

6 thoughts on “Houousan

  1. wow, congrats on conquering Mt. Houou before work! I wonder how many more of these stealth missions you’ll have during the rainy season…you definitely have to take advantage of the weather no matter what day it is!

    I hope the weather will be fine for the rest of the Minami Alps excursions. My experience is that the weather is much better than the Kita Alps!

  2. Thanks for the encouragement. There are several more peaks within striking distance of a mid-week early morning attack. Your approach on Goryu of hiking partway up in the evening extends those possibilities.

    I really need good weather for the S. Alps traverse as I’ll have to camp. No hut (rightly so) is going to allow the dog in!

  3. Hello, I’m a hiking friend of Hoshino, who you might have met at Houou mountains.
    I’m on behalf of him to say hi and thank you for a little chat in the middle of wilderness.
    Hope you have a good journey at the upcoming hiking events.

  4. Hi Den-san (& Hoshino-san),

    It was a real pleasure to meet and chat with the very cheerful and friendly Hoshino-san on Yakushi-dake! I think we were both surprised to find someone else on the mountain at that early hour in the morning.

    I wish him (and you too, perhaps?) happy hiking on the rest of the Hyakumeizan.

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