Our plan was to set off from the 5th station car park at (2300 metres) around 2pm and hike the Yoshida Trail to the 8th station hut (3400m) before dark. We would then sleep in the hut until 2am and then set off for the summit (3776m) to catch the sunrise at 4:30am. Our group consisted of wife Sarah, daughter Meagan and her boyfriend Koyu. My Japan callsign allocated was JP3PBQ.
I had a backpack with 3 litres of water, some clothes, lunches, dinner, breakfast, torches and of course, SOTA radio equipment. The SOTA gear consisted of an FT817, Lipo batteries, 20/15/10m End Fed Half Wave antenna, log book, hand held and usual SOTA bits and pieces. I didn’t really want to carry all that stuff, as the MTRV2 would have been much lighter, but it was not approved by the Japan radio authorities. Koyu had more stuff than I did, not sure what his pack weighed, but it must have been heavy.
The car park was very busy and we had to queue for cars to leave the car park to provide spaces for us to enter. The delays meant that we finally departed the car park for the hike at 3pm, a bit later than planned. The temperature was in the high 20s at 5th station.
Its a pretty demanding hike and not made any easier on this day by the strong winds that was whipping up gravel and dust and blasting us with it. We had a late lunch at 6th station and admired the views. After lunch it was a long slog to 8th station with many rests in between. You could feel the thinning air at 7th station making the going a bit slower.
We finally arrived at 8th Station hut at 8:30pm in the dark where we had some dinner and were shown the 90cm or so width allocated to us to sleep in. It was very “cosy” and I don’t think any of us were able to sleep.
At 2am the lights came on and we all had some breakfast and continued the slog to the summit. As we left the hut, the wind speed was 28m/s or 100km/hr at the summit. This combined with -1 degrees was a chill factor of -20 degrees. On the way up you could hear bullets of wind coming and hikers would crouch down and hang on to rocks. A few were blown over. It was an amazing sight to look back down and see the snaking line of hikers with head torches in the dark.
We arrived at the summit at about 3:45am to a howling gale and freezing temperatures. There is a small building with steel plate walls, which provided a little shelter while we waited for the sunrise. The clouds eventually parted and we were treated to a stunning view of the sun and scenery below. Sarah took some great photos.
At about 6:30 local time, I ventured in a clockwise direction from the top of the Yoshida trail to get to the activation zone. This part was very exposed and care had to be taken when wind gusts came through. I found a spot against a stone wall and tried the 2m hand held. It was not possible to spot on SOTAwatch as no cell phone coverage for some reason. Erecting the squid pole was out of the question due to the winds. After about 30 minutes of calling, I decided it was becoming unsafe with the wind so aborted and went back to meet the others.
So, not a successful radio activation, but as they say, its all about the journey!