Goryu dake; if at first you don’t succeed, try ‘try again’

On the 12th of March 2018, I set off with Simon to try to climb Goryudake. After being blown off the mountain in zero visibility the day before on Jiigatake, I was heartened by blue skies, but the winds remained strong.

Simon putting crampons on at Goryu backcountry gate

We set off for the long ridge walk up from the Goryu resort backcountry gate and soon enough Goryudake was visible to us.

Simon hiking towards Goryu dake

The recent rains and warm weather have resulted in spring conditions, the day previous a few cm of new snow had accompanied the hurricane force winds but we certainly didn’t think we would encounter any meaningful powder. That wasn’t the case however, when we approached the ridge line through the large alpine bowl, the bowl was predominately filled with cold powder. We continued up towards the ridge and the summer hut.

Simon and the Goryu goya

Unfortunately, the winds at the ridge top were intense. We left our skis and snowboards at the hut because we couldn’t safely walk with them on our backpacks and we continued up as far as we could go. As we approached the crux of the climb the winds became even more intense and we couldn’t safely continue. We walked back to the hut and skied powder down the main bowl and surprisingly into the couloir that lead us to our valley exit.

Simon descending back towards the goya with the winds raging in the background


Simon skiing the main bowl in pow
Simon skiing the flank of Goryudake
Simon skiing out the debris filled bottom of the couloir

What is there to do when you don’t quite make the summit… Well, go back again the next day and try again! And that’s what we did, this time joined by Conor, we ascended back up the same way on the 13th March and were luckily gifted calmer winds for our final push to the summit.

Our route to Goryu Summit
Conor and Simon crampon’ing up to the summit
Simon and Conor at the top of the sketchiest part of the climb
Conor and Simon on the summit of Goryudake

We walked around for a short period on the summit looking at our potential descent options but finally decided on the still sunny south couloir that starts from just below the summit. The snow was variable but for the most part soft.

Our descent from the summit of Goryu
Goryudake (12 of 20)
Goryudake (16 of 20)
Goryudake (14 of 20)
Goryudake (17 of 20)

After skiing the couloir off Goryudake we needed to ascend back to the Toomi ridge to ski back towards Hakuba 47/Goryu ski area. This short, but steep bootpack, in the glaring afternoon sunlight, after an already full day of hiking wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Simon looking tired on the bootpack

But the rewards of a successful summit day were enough to carry everyone through in high spirits.

Simon taking a last look at the summit before descending

Simon and I skied a nice sunny west-facing tree ridge all the way down to the exit road, a nice corn run to end a successful day.

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