Looking Forward: Key Dates and What to Expect for Spring 2017

UPDATE AND CORRECTION:  The initial posting of this blog mistakenly listed the opening of the Kama tunnel as “Friday, April 17th.”  While the date is correct, the day should actually be Monday, April 17th.  We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience or confusion this may have caused.

Warm greetings to all our loyal readers on this chilly yet beautiful afternoon.  Like the rest of you, we have been making the most of the winter downtime, keeping warm and making time to hit the local ski resorts.  But with a whiff of springtime now in the air, it’s time to start thinking about the Kamikochi reopening to the public in mid-April.  It’s still two months away, but it’ll be here before you know it.

Mountain man Brian gets an eyeful of a mid-winter Mount Yake.

Let’s start with the question everyone has been asking: “When exactly does Kamikochi open this year”?  After consulting with Alpico, we can now confirm that buses will start taking people into the park, via the Kama Tunnel on Monday, April 17th.  Please bear in mind that we still don’t know yet have the bus schedules and some businesses within the park may not be open at that early date, but all the basic amenities should be available.

The Azusa River in winter. A sheen like liquid mercury.

Ten days later on the 27th, the Ceremony marking the opening of the mountains to the public will be held in the Kappa Bridge area.  Expect it to be boisterous and well-attended.

A past opening ceremony, held on a warm and sunny spring day (not always like this!)

And what should we be expecting in Kamikochi at this time of year?  Well, it’s hard to say this far in advance.  Past Opening Ceremonies have exhibited a wild mix of different weather conditions, from warm and sunny to cold and blizzardy.

One thing we can be sure of is that the mountains will still be covered in snow with climbing at this time being limited to experienced winter climbers with appropriate winter gear.

Down around the 1200m mark, you should have no trouble visiting such popular locations as Taisho Pond, Kappa Bridge, Myojin Pond, etc.  Bring some proper boots however, as there may still be some snow on the trails.

Having hiked to Karasawa in late may, I know that this can be done with warm apparel, crampons, and most importantly planning.

So in closing, the key dates for 2017 are April 17th, when the Kama Tunnel opens to public transport, and April 27th, when the Opening Ceremony is set to be held at Kappa Bridge.  Mark these days in your calendar and be sure to join us in welcoming Spring 2013!