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Written by: William Habington
Date: 2012/07/17

 

While the rest of Japan finds itself in the midst of sweltering heatwaves, things are a little cooler in the Northern Alps.

 

This picture, taken about a week ago, shows breathtaking scenery from a recent excursion to Mae Hotaka Dake, one of Kamikochi's most popular peaks.  As you can see, there is still snow on the slopes meaning that any climbers venturing up there should carry the appropriate gear.  Mae Hotaka may be accessed by multiple routes, reminding us of how Kamikochi earned its title as "The Gateway to the Northern Alps."

 

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Recent reports tell us that while there is almost no snow on the path to the Takezawa Hut, there is still plenty in the daisekkei ("snowy valley").  I myself haven't been up that way recently, but know from experience that crampons and an ice axe are a must when climbing snowy inclines.  Note that in moderate snow and at lower altitudes many people now prefer to carry stalks in the place of ice axes.

 

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As of last week, it was also possible to see "yama-zakura," a moutainous type of cherry blossom, in full bloom.   Needless to say, cherry blossom viewing in mid-July is a rare treat. 

 

 

 

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Elsewhere the arrival of summer plantlife showed us that the summer hiking season has arrived in earnest.

 

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As the seasons change, the Kamikochi experience also changes significantly.  Whether you come for the cool, refreshing air, the great views, the tranquility, or all of the above, you should definitely experience Kamikochi at this time of the year.  The tourist season has yet to hit its peak, so it's high to to ready your rucksack and pay us a visit!

 

Source of Information:

-- The Shirakabaso Homepage (http://shirakabaso.com/)