Note: As of August 2016, the trails to the summit of this
mountain are closed and access is strictly prohibited. The operator
of the rope-way saying: "If you go there you go to jail". It was a bit difficult
for us to fully understand the reasons, but appearently, the eruption in 2014
(that took 60 lives) is still making
the summit access considered dangerous.
It was rather unfortunate that there was no easy or obvious way to get this
information in English when planning our trip. Thus, we wasted a full day
in order to learn this.
How to get there:
There are at least 2, possibly 3 trailheads that may be used.
From Kiso, the valley have signed side-roads for Ontake. When
everything is back to normal, the best trailhead is the one
further south (above a ski area. The road turns uphill
at the end of a long lake.
(A water reservoir with a dam at the north end).
There is a large, free parking area
on top and the elevation is (slightly) higher than the the top
of the rope-way, thus saving a significant cost as well.
This location is at N35.87322, E137.50317, elevation slightly above 2200 meter.
The alternative trailhead would be the big parking area that you access from
a different road in the valley, serving the rope-way.
This road is also well signed. The parking area is a location
N35.90174, E137.53731, elevation about xxxx meter. As of 2016, a round trip
fare cost 2600 yen. This rope-way will take you to a suitable trailhead above
Please refer to other sources, the trails to the summit are straightforward
to hike as soon as they have been declared safe and are re-opened.
This turned out to be a day characterized by closures. We left our accommodation
in Ina at 0630 and drove to the high trailhead, arriving at 0815. Ready to go
shortly after, we took the wide path (a small road), that starts under the portal
and heads directly across the flat area before the hillside. Unfortunately, this
trail was closed off with a big barrier just where it has its first few uphill steps.
A religious ceremony of some sort took place nearby to the right and we bumped into
a man that explained that the access was forbidden. However, he indicated that
one could hike from the rope-way, (limited English, as most Japanese.)
Bad news indeed, the drive all the way back down to the reservoir, up the valley and to
the rope-way was 55 kilometer of very slow driving (sharp curves) road. Not much to
do about it, we drove back down to the reservoir. There, we discovered that the road
we had just driven along the reservoir, had been closed (for some sort
of repair?) in the meantime. Backtracking, we located the road that ran along the reservoir
on the opposite side. We were parked at the rope-way parking lot by 1000.
Here, we discovered the ultimate bad news of the day, all trails to the summit
were closed and unlawful to attempt. Thus, our plan to complete the climbing of all Ultra prominent
mountains in Japan would definitely not succeed.
We got back into the car and headed for the base of our next goal, Haku-san,
further west. It was already too late in the day to be able to
climb it today. We found the Happo hotel next to the local
reservoir and after some bargaining with the receptionist, an acceptable
price for lodging.
Here is a quick summary of peaks climbed in our trip to Japan.