Hiking Mt. Kongō (金剛山)

Japan

February, 10 th 2019

Interested in hiking this trail? Download it here!

An unexpected adventure. I love winter and I love snow. Since the icy cold is gone around two weeks ago, winter is almost over. I was extremely excited to climb Kansai’s IMG_3711.jpeghighest mountain, Mt. Kongo, and enjoy a winter wonderland. I expected it could be quite challenging to climb up to summit on 1125 m. This trail was worked out very carefully with several back up plans if the conditions are too rough. I decided to follow one of the main tourist’s trails to increase to chance of a succesfull clmib. After last week’s adventures I was a little bit worried. On one hand winter can be very tough and circumstances can IMG_3715.jpgeasily lead into dangerous situations. On the other hand I couldn’t imagine that we need to be mountaineers for a successfully climb. Mt. Kongo is one of the most popular mountains and Japanese people love to climb them all around the year. I remembered my trip to Mittenwald in January 2018, where we climb the outskirts of german alps and slept on a mountain hut at 1500 m. It was safe all the time and no speacial gear needed. Someone IMG_3727.jpgcommented on my homepage and gave me an advice to change my mind. I was not happy about it, because how could I trust in some words written by somebody I don’t know? It was rather unsettling me than being helpful. I checked the webcam at summit and decided to trust my feelings, which said we should definitely go the planned way. This time we met at Shin-Imamiya station and since everybody needed to line up for the discount ticket it was just chaotic. My advice to come earlier to get the ticket before IMG_3739.jpgmeeting up was completely ignored. Anyway, it was not that stressfull at all and we arrived at platform in time. At Kawachinagano we took the bus, which was horribly IMG_3751.jpgcrowded. This time we were around 15 people at the beginning and I was happy that today’s trail was way shorter than usually. I was extremely happy today since Yumi told me to join. She was my very first couchsurfing host and I stayed with her in Yokohama the first day of my journey. I remember I was very sick at the beginning of my journey, struggling with a respiratory infect and Yumi cooked a special dish for me. Four months passed since we met and things chnged a lot. I would never have expected IMG_3763.jpgto see her again in Osaka and under this circumstances. First we climbed steep stairs to get to famous ruins. It was challenging and the group drifted apart. The ruins were not worth the climb and we had to go back once everybody arrived at the top. On the way somebody told me that the Australian family decided to take the bus and cable car to go to the top. I was sad to hear that and had a bad feeling, everybody drifted apart and they might felt detached. There was also a girl from Singapore, who struggeled and went back to take IMG_3767.jpgthe bus. We motivated her to continue the hike with us. At the trail’s start the next surprise. Well, it wasn’t that surprising at all: the trail was closed. There were three official trails on the map and I cannot understand how I managed to pick the closed one again. I was tired of adventures and had respect of this mountain, so I let the group decide. Since anybody hadn’t downloaded the trail (cause I forgot to change the trail’s characteristics from private to public and found it out in the morning, but no one complained at any IMG_3774.jpgtime) it was quite difficult. Half of the group didn’t want to continue while the others wanted to go for it. What should we do? Split up again? I decided to follow the adventurous ones and start hiking. After a while the others appeared behind us and I was extremely released. A closed trail could mean anything. From a bit messy, but wonderful to impossibly to hike and dangerous. Let’s see how it would end up. We walked on a forest street and arrived at some rock pools and a waterfall. It was just amazing. The trail was small, narrow and to the left side it was very IMG_3793.jpgsteep. There were ropes and ladders assembled to support on the climbing passages. The Singaporean girl was obviously overwhelmed, so I supported her and led her through IMG_3816.jpgdifficulties. The trail was extremely amazing, following the river and guiding us through the river as well. It was not made for weekend walkers, this was a hiking trail with a bunch of challenging situations. At a conyon were several ropes installed and the trail was as narrow as a foot. The Singaporean girl struggled to catch the next rope, so I overtook her and tried to guide her. While bouldering I’m the most scaredy cat in the world. Once at a competition I passed a difficult trail, but was unable to climb IMG_3821.jpgdown and too afraid to jump down as well. Everybody was thinking I’m joking, but in the end some of our boys had to took me on their shoulders and guiding me down. I have never been IMG_3823.jpgin a danger, while the floor was covered by mattresses. But here in this canyon there were any matresses and for sure it was dangerous. The girl was holding the rope, so I bouldered behind her and her huge IMG_3825.jpgbackpack to the next one. Surprisingly I was not afraid. It was the second time in a few weeks my body was surprising me while handling challenging situations. I gave the rope to the girl and she traversed to me. Then it happened. Her foot slipped away and there was no proper tread anymore. Holding the rope and pressing my feet against the wall I told her to use me feet to stand on it, but she couldn’t stand up. She was going to slip down the canyon. The problem was I couldn’t do anything. I just covered her with my own legs to beware her from slipping down the canyon. But standing up, she had to IMG_3831manage herself. Luckily she did sucessfully. Tomal and me guided her the next kilometers while the rest of the group was way faster. She apologized plenty of times, but I couldn’t understand why. She impressed me a lot. Sometimes people say I’m brave, but these situations are not challenging me, so how can I be brave, when there is no fear? This trail was challenging her a lot, but her mind was so strong and she continued continuously without any moaning and complaining. She was also one of the first ones who decided strongly to choose the closed way. We made a break altogether next to the river, it was a lovely place, but still the breaks are not enjoyable yet due to the cold. We continued and the IMG_3841.jpgtrail guided us throuh the riverbed. It was steep, but I couldn’t feel it, because I was so amazed of this scenery. I was glad about the group’s choice – this trail was a hidden treasure and I’m keen to come back in summerly atmosphere to enjoy the refreshing IMG_3861.jpgriver in a green and peaceful scenery. With gaining elevation the groud became covered by snow and several ice crystals were growing in the river. I cannot describe the trail’s beauty and so the pictures I took also can’t. We couldn’t see the group anymore, but together with Tomal and the girl I enjoyed a lot this wonderful place in nature. Shortly before summit my flatmate Junya came back to support us while taking the girl’s backpack. Together we made it to summit. It was crowded on summit and it looked like a Japanese winter wonderland. It was IMG_3864.jpgfull of families and kids playing in the snow and the coloured hiking clothes made it look a very nice scenery. In this crowd it was impossible and very stressful to find our group’s members, since they arrived more than half an hour before. But at least we managed to take a group picture where amlost everybody was joining. Some people decided to take the cable car, while a bunch of hikers decided to walk down, me included. It was very icy on top due to all this people who squeezed the snow and the IMG_3867.jpgtrail became an icy slope. At summit there was also a temple and I extremely enjoyed. My imagination of a Japanese winter wonderland became true. We IMG_3870.jpgstruggeled a bit finding an official way down. One way was closed while the other was too crowded. Somebody found a way criss-crossing through bushes, leading on a small path. OK, adventure again. This trail was as steap as beautiful and we were very quick. We walked back to bus station where the trail merged into the official forest street and I was happy that we had taken the other one. When we arrived at the bus station, we immediately got on the bus. Lucky we were. As always we decided to have IMG_3880.jpegdinner together, this time in Namba. We chose a chinese restaurant with custom made soups and finally Tomal got his spicy food. Maybe it was a little bit too spicy in the end. Together with Junya and a German guy I walked back to Nishinari. Albert was living in the neighbour’s hostel, so we decided to drink a beer together and enjoyed the rest of the evening at our hostel’s common room. I’m already excited about next week’s hike.

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