22. Jan 2011 (unfinished)
6. Mar 2011 (unfinished)
11. March 2011 (unfinished)
13. Dec 2011 (unfinished)
9. Jun 2012 (unfinished)
18. Jun 2012 (finished)
1st try: 22. Jan 2011 (unfinished)
After work I drove to Fukushima-ken and slept in the car at a service area on the highway. Next morning, I drove to the west on a small mountain road. Weather was fine. After about an hour it started to snow.
On the map the hiking course seemed easy. First, I could use a ropeway, then 3 seat carrier. There was lots of snow! Beautiful. But weather became worse. I started hiking in deep snow. It was tough because I sank into the snow about 1 meter; several times I had to climb snow-walls. Sometimes I recognized that I was standing on a tree which was completely covered with snow!
When I reached the ridge, there was strong wind and now view. I had no idea where to go. And I could not find my own footprints! The wind immediately covered them with fresh snow. Under these conditions I decided that it would be better to return – but how? I used my compass and just tried to keep direction of ski-area when I walked back down. Finally I arrived at the ropeway-station! Happy! This was the first time to try to climb Nishi-Azumayama. On my way back home, I already made a plan to climb this mountain again, soon. Still thinking it is an easy to climb mountain…
Hiking-Keydata: 西吾妻山 Nishi-Azumayama
22. Jan 2011
Start 北望台 Hokuboudai 8:45 am 1.820 m
Trail up 中大巃 Nakadaiten 9:40 am 1.955 m
Finish 天元台ロープウェイ Tengendai ropeway 11:40 am 1.320 m
Duration: 3 h Distance: 3 Km Height: 140 m
2nd try: 6. Mar 2011 (unfinished)
Takashi-san and I left Takasaki at 4:30. During our drive to Fukushima-ken we discussed which mountain we should hike today.
The weather was beautiful – blue sky and a great view on the mountain range.
The ropeway station at Azumayama confirmed by mobile phone that the weather will be fine this day. When we arrived at the station some clouds covered the mountain and a strong wind was blowing.
After the ropeway there are three seat carriers which we wanted to use. Due to strong wind the operation of the first seat carrier was already shut down.
We discussed with the staff about weather condition and if they might open the first seat carrier again. While we discussed the second seat carrier was shut down, too.
Anyway, we wanted to hike and so we took the ropeway up to the first level.
On the way the ropeway stopped because of strong wind. We had to wait for about 5 minutes in the swinging cabin.
When we arrived at the first level station, the wind was about 80km/hour. Then an emergency rescue team with cat-car brought an injured ski-person.
In this condition we hiked until the 3rd seat carrier station. There was nobody outside besides us and some mountain security guards. Finally, they strongly asked us the return because they will close the total area.
This was the second try to climb this mountain.
We visited 上杉神社（うえすぎじんじゃ）Uesugi-shrine and after eating a delicious local ramen we returned via Niigata to Takasaki.
3rd try: 11. March 2011 (not reached mountain)
After trying 2 times to hike Azumayama without any success, I checked weather forecast very intensively. And I found several webcams in Fukushima-ken in the internet. This time I want to avoid any negative influence from weather. My map shows that in summer we can reach the peak in about 2 hours. Must be possible to hike this mountain in winter!
Weather forecast was fine – and weather seemed to be stable. In the afternoon of Fr. 11th I had an appointment at my dentist in Higashimatzuyama, from where I wanted to drive to Nishi-Azumayama.
I planned to drive in the evening, sleep in the car, and then hike Azumayama on Sat. 12th and Bandaisan on Sun. 13th. A good and well prepared plan.
But just as treatment at the dentist was finished the big Tohoku earthquake occurred. First nobody knew full impact of the earthquake which was announced as 7.1 on my iphone (no telephone connection, no news, no experience with big earthquakes). But soon I recognized that this will change my hiking plans and – my life.
4th try: 13. Dec 2011 (unfinished)
Winter season 2011 has started. The mountains in Gunma already have been covered with snow – but less than in previous years. Carefully I watched weather forecast – and decided to have a try on Dec. 13th.
Weather forecast for Fukushima was fine, sunny with some clouds.
I departed in Takasaki early this morning.
There was little snow in the valleys this year. And 2 of the 3 seat carriers did not operate due to less snow.
I took the 1st. seat carrier to the upper station. This time I used my new touring ski, which I bought in Germany last autumn. I already tried them in Karuizawa ski area – but this time it was first time to use them for mountain climbing.
From the upper station of the 3rd seat carrier weather became worse and there was a lot of snow and ice. Temperature was about -10 degrees.
From the station I used ski to walk through the deep snow and soon reach the mountain ridge – but the way was hard to find same as before. Anyway, this time I was able to continue the hike.
From the ridge I went down some hundred meters, then I passed two crossings. But I was not able to find the mountain peak Kanji or a way mark. And the view became worse – no idea where the peak supposed to be…
After struggling around in the fog, I decided to return. But it was difficult to climb the high snow banks which covered the bamboo forest. The snow was fresh, powdery and not stable at all. It was almost impossible to go back. Tired I took a rest and almost fall asleep.
Then the idea came how to get up that several meters high snow wall in front of me: using my skies I build a stair. Plaiced one ski in the snow bank and bamboo, stand on it, place the second above it, stand on second, grab the 1st one below, place it above, and so on. That’s how I climbed 2 times 3 meter high snow banks and managed to get out.
I was so happy when I reached the ridge. Besides the bad weather conditions I faced problems with the binding of the ski. I could not understand the reason, but the ski went off often during the way back.
On the ridge I removed climbing-skins and adjusted binding for downhill skiing. But after I just reached good speed and passed some snowy trees, suddenly one sky went off and I fell hard. Below the soft snow there were rocks and I crashed into them and heard how one of my bones in the hand broke when I hit the ground.
My legs have been ok, just a bit bleeding but the inner handbone of my thumb was broken.
For such cases I always carry first aid kit (army type) and painkiller. I fixed my thumb together with the forefinger and after I took the pain killer, I drank some hot tea and checked the binding in detailed. Something wrong here….
It was completely frozen. Using knife and lighter I removed the ice – and then it worked. I attached the ski again and somehow could return without any further sudden openings to the ropeway station.
Even if I could hardly walk to the car – after warming up my legs became better and somehow I managed the way back to Takasaki. Next day I went to doctor and he confirmed that thumb was broken but no big problem because bones remained in original place.
I think it was good to fix it immediately and there was enough ice around Azumayama to keep it cool.
But I decided, better not to try to climb Azumayama during winter season – even if it seems to be an easy mountain – the winter condition is much more difficult as at other mountains.
Hiking-Keydata: 西吾妻山 Nishi-Azumayama
13. Dec 2011
Start 天元台ロープウェイ Tengendai ropeway
10:30 am 1.320 m
Trail up 北望台 Hokuboudai 11:40 am 1.820 m
Trail up 中大巃 Nakadaiten 12:30 pm 1.955 m
Trail up 大凹 Ookubo 1:30 pm 1.890 m
Finish 天元台ロープウェイ Tengendai ropeway
3:30 pm 1.320 m
Duration: 5 h Distance: 5,5 Km Height: 710 m
Dec. 13th. 2011 Radioactivity levels:
Takasaki: 54 nSh/h
Oya: 45 nSh/h
Shirokawa: 300-600 nSh/h
Koriyama: 680 nSh/h
Motomiya: 360-670 nSh/h
Fukushima: 350-670 nSh/h
mountain road west of Fukushima: 35-90 nSh/h
Ropeway station: 80 nSh/h
5th try: 9. Jun 2012 (unfinished)
After several trials in winter season, summer seemed a better season to climb this mountain. This time weather was cloudy with some light rain. Still, there was about 1,5 meters snow left, melting snow. Lots of water was pouring down the mountain, some sprig flowers started to bloom. Because of bad weather it was recommended not to hike the peak, but was possible to go to another range on the east side. No view, strong wind, again no good condition for hiking. Better return down…
In such condition is a much better idea to visit local onsen and enjoy the hot water. After visiting 上杉神社（うえすぎじんじゃ）Uesugi-shrine shrine I enjoyed for dinner one of the best Japanese beef! This was really an unforgettable stay!
Yonezawa meat restaurant: http://www.kongoukaku.com; http://www.o-ki.co.jp
The next day weather improved –but I felt sick. Very sick. Planned to climb Bandai-san – but not sure if I could. For sure – climbing Nishi-Azumayama – to be continued….
Let’s drive to Bandaisan and see how things turn out…
Hiking-Keydata: 西吾妻山 Nishi-Azumayama
9. Jun 2012
Start 北望台 Hokuboudai 12:30 pm 1.820 m
Top 人形石 Ningiyouishi 1:10 pm 1.950 m
Finish 北望台 Hokuboudai 2:15 pm 1.820 m
Duration: 1 h 45 min Distance: 1,9 km Height: 130 m
6th try: 18. Jun 2012 (finished! Yeah!)
This time hiking strategy was different: after stay overnight in Yonezawa, hiking started early. Thanks to the ropeway, all hikers accessed until 1.820 meters. From this point the trail leads up to the mountain ridge. But even the weather was ok this day (clouds but no rain), – I mistook the way.
When I saw these rocks in the clouds – I thought – I know this place, must have been here before! It was人形石 Ningiyouishi …
What happened? I mistook the way because Kanjis on the signboard are modern but in the map there are old types of kanji printed, the traditional style was used. For people who cannot read kanji, can be confusing.
Way back took only about 10 min – through beautiful flowers, I might was lucky to mistake the way? From then it was easy to find the peak. It just too longer as I have expected. More and more I understood, that in wintertime it must be very, very difficult (not recommendable!) to climb this mountain. Not because steep but because of vegetation and weather condition.
From 吾妻神社 Azuma-shrein the top is close and can be reached easily.
Finally reached – and delicious onigiri with ginger and radish pickles for lunch. I went back to the ropeway station without any problem.
And once again, the onsen was absolutely fine and provided a good feeling before I drove back to Tokyo. A nice long weekend finished – next day work is waiting!
きもちい（ kimochi） = feels good!!
Hiking-Keydata: 西吾妻山 Nishi-Azumayama 18. Jun 2012
Start: 北望台 Hokuboudai 9:35 am 1.820 m
Trail up: 中大巃 Nakadaiten 10:05 am 1.955 m
Trail up: 人形石 Ningiyouishi 10:20 am 1.950 m
Trail up: 大凹 Ookubo 10:40 am 1.890 m
Trail up: 若女平 Wakamedaira 11:20 am 2.000 m
Trail up: 吾妻神社 Azumashrein 11:30 am 1.995 m
Top: 西吾妻山 Nishi-Azumayama 12:00 am 2.035 m
Finish: 北望台 Hokuboudai 13:40 pm 1.820 m
Duration: 4 h 5 min Distance: 6,3 Km Height: 315 m