(木曽駒ヶ岳)Kiso-komagatake Winter Hike

This is a far, far mountain, and the time spent getting there is longer than the hike proper! I have been looking for alternative trails, but the other ones seem to require an additional night of stay, or taking the emergency trail, which I'm not really comfortable with. 

Another thing to take note, is that Kiso-Komagatake shares the trailhead with Mt. Utsugi, another hyakumeizan (100 Famous Mountains), but doing Mt. Utsugi requires an additional night's stay, as it is quite far. 

Additional note: Mt. Utsugi's mountain hut (paid) is closed for the entirety of 2020 due to covid.

Budget: JPY9,460 (~USD89)
  • JPY4,820. Roundtrip train fare, assuming use of Seishun 18 ticket.
  • JPY2,100. Roundtrip bus, Komagane Station ⇔ Ropeway (Shirabidaira Station)
  • JPY2,540. Roundtrip Ropeway Fee.
  • +JPY6,000. Mountain hut accommodation (optional)
  • +JPY1,000. Camping fee (per person) (optional)
Hike Date / Difficulty (Elevation: 2,946m / 9,698ft)
  • January 8, 2022
  • Difficulty: 2 out of 5
  • Route below is around 4.2kilometers, with an elevation change of ▲485m/ ▽486m (4h5m)
  • Map Link

When to Go
Anytime during the year, as the buses run even in winter. The hotel at the top of the ropeway seems to be open throughout the year. 

Special Notes
  • Weather forecast: English / Japanese.
  • The hike is one big assault to the saddle, and from there, just need to pass a little hill (Nakadake), then it was a short ascent to the summit. About 30-40 minutes after reaching the saddle. 
  • Trailhead: Senjojiki (千畳敷), which is the top of the ropeway.
    • via public transportation
      • Train, Tokyo to Komagane Station. No matter what I choose, be it express or local, if I leave on a Saturday, the earliest I can get at Komagane Station is 11:07am. (one way details)
        • Express train. JPY7,060, 265 minutes.
        • Local train. JPY4,510, 384 minutes. Take note that the Seishun 18 ticket can be used.
      • Bus, Komagane Station to Ropeway. Bus schedule is here. It runs even in winter, but instead of every 30 minutes, it departs every hour. The time of the first bus also changes depending on the date - it can be as early as 5am, with winter departures at 8am. The ride one way is about 43minutes, and will cost JPY1,050.
      • Ropeway. Website here. It takes 7.5 minutes, JPY1,370 one way, JPY2,540 roundtrip. It starts at 8am, with last ropeway at 4pm (winter) or 5pm (summer).
    • via private transportation
      • Cars can only go up to Suganodai Parking Lot (菅の台), google maps pin. Not sure if this is limited to winter. At the parking lot, the bus + ropeway roundtrip ticket is JPY4,200, credit cards accepted. 
      • Bus, Suganodai Parking Lot to Shirabi-daira (しらび平). About 30 minutes one way, JPY830 one way. 
      • Ropeway to the trailhead. The bus stop is right in front of the ropeway. 
    • The ropeway leaves every hour in winter, but if there are more than 45 people waiting, they run the ropeway every 20 minutes. 
Bus Winter Schedule, Komagane Station - Suganodai Parking Lot - Shirabidaira 
  • Mountain huts. There are quite a lot of mountain huts, and one camping area.
    • Paid: Choujo-kisogoya (頂上木曽小屋) is closest to the summit (5 mins by foot the website says), at JPY6,000, without food, JPY8,000 with two meals. Reservation via call at 0264-52-3882 . Closed during winter. 
    • Paid: Choujo-sansou (頂上山荘) is a bit further. Please note that even trying to take a break in the building costs money (JPY300/hour), which is fair, as in some other places taking a break is not even allowed. Getting water and using the restroom also costs money.
    • Camping: Choujo-sansou (頂上山荘) above. Reservations not needed for camping. During winter, I saw some people actually camping right next to the mountain hut below the summit. See the tents below:

  
Itinerary
  • 04:30amish. Departure from Tokyo (about 3 hours drive)
  • 08:15am. Bus, Suganodai Parking Lot to Shirabidaira Station.
  • 08:45am. ETA: Shirabidaira. Walk to the ropeway (8 minutes). 
  • 09:05am. Ropeway to Senjojiki (千畳敷).
  • 09:12am. ETA: Senjojiki (千畳敷). Start hike
  • 02:55pm. Back at Senjojiki. Last ropeway at 1:55pm, 2:55pm, 3:55pm.
  • 03:42pm, Back at the parking lot. 
Actual log
  • 04:50am. Departure from Tokyo.
  • 07:45am. Arrived at Suganodai Parking lot. We fell in line to buy the ticket, and then fell in line to board the bus. There's a separate line for the two. 
  • 08:27am. Bus, Suganodai Parking Lot to Shirabidaira Station. The bus was not late, but the line was long so we got into the third bus. 
  • 09:00am. Arrived at Shirabidaira, which is right in front of the ropeway. Unfortunately, the line was long and the ropeway only runs every 20 minutes, with a capacity of 45 people.  
  • 09:45am. Ropeway to Senjojiki (千畳敷).
  • 10:00am. Arrived at Senjojiki (千畳敷). Put on our crampons and rest of our gear, started hike. It was a rather steep ascent. 
  • 10:53am. Reached the saddle. Had a break. 
  • 11:52am. Reached the summit. 
  • 01:34pm. Back at Senjojiki. 
  • 02:55pm. Ropeway back down.  

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The looooooong line to buy the ticket. 

Finally, the ticket. 

Ropeway up. 

Yey! Starting the hike. 

See that one looooong line? 

Yeah, it goes pretty slowly. 

Finally the saddle!

The all boarded up mountain hut. 

Continuing to the summit. 

So that was not the summit. It's just Nakadake (中岳)

Going to the summit now. And there's Ontake!

Summit!

The snow covered torii with Ontake at the background. 

The summit marker at the center of attention. 

Summmmiit. 

On my way down. 

Boy that's pretty. 

That's Nakadake right there. 

The mountain hut all boarded up with people camping next to it. 

Going down Nakadake. 

Really steeeeep descent to the ropeway. 

All done! Looking back. 


    Comments

    1. Itinerary (via Public Transportation)

      Saturday
      -04:30amish. Departure from Tokyo (if local. You can leave around 06:30ish if with express ones)
      -11:07am. ETA: Komagane Station.
      -11:30am. Bus, Komagane Station to Shirabidaira Station.
      -12:30pm. Take ropeway up at the summit. I know it feels like cheating, but taking the closest trail (北御所登山口) will add 9 hours and 25 minutes to your time.
      -01:00pm. Start hike.
      -03:00pm. ETA: Kiso-komagatake summit.
      -Rest for the night.

      Sunday
      -07:00am. Start hike.
      -10:45am. ETA: 三ノ沢岳
      -01:20pm. ETA: Ropeway.

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