Testing my limits in Aso – Stage 3 – Mt. Nakadake & Takadake

Feeling much more confident and a lot fitter than when I first arrived in Aso almost 3 months ago, I let myself be persuaded by my climbing partner to tackle the big one.

The time had finally come to attempt the main climbs of Aso, Mt. Nakadake and Mt. Takadake.

To top things off and make the challenge even tougher, we decided to ditch the usual route starting from the Sunasenri parking area and go in reverse from Sensuikyo Gorge.

Known to be quite intensive, this route does however offer spectacular views especially when setting out early in the morning.

This was apparent quite quickly as shortly after arriving, we were treated to the view known in Japan as Unkai (Sea of ​​Clouds).


After snapping a few pictures above the clouds, it was time for the last minute preparations before starting the grueling hike up the gorge and towards the ridge connected to the summit of Mt. Nakadake.

The car park offers the last chance to purchase drinks from a vending machine and use the bathroom facilities.


The trail begins with stone steps that run parallel to the old ropeway line that operated for many years before closing down in 2010.


As we climbed we could see remnants of the old ropeway still standing alongside the path. It brought back memories of my first trip to Aso back in 2004 when I rode the ropeway all the way to the top.

After sometime the steps gave way to a dirt trail and the incline started to become a lot more intense on the lungs and body.


Continuously running out of breath and feeling a deep burn in the legs, we decided to take a rest for some more photos of the superb views before setting off for the final push to the ridge.

The car park was now well out of view and you could feel the air becoming thinner. Catching a breath seemed to be taking longer and longer.


After about an hour including resting time, we eventually made it up to the ridge and got that great feeling of relief to be finally on flat ground. The steep ascend had taken its toll and I could certainly see why it is classed as one of the more demanding routes.

Mt. Ojodake and Kishimadake could be seen in the distance.


Making our way further along the ridge towards the summit of Mt. Nakadake, the active volcanic crater gradually came into view.

Although being safe on the day, the smell can be quite overpowering and leave a unpleasant chemical taste in the mouth. I would advise those with sensitivity to wear a mask or use a wet towel to cover your nose and mouth as you pass by.


Luckily on the day of our climb there was a very low amount of wind as the area is well known for extremely high winds and my climbing partner was barely able to stand during her last hike.

The final stretch before reaching the summit was very narrow and full of loose rocks and even with good hiking boots there was quite a few times I slipped. Extra caution is advised on this part of the trail to avoid injury.


Thank you for reading up to now, you can catch the final part of the hike soon including the summits and the daunting descension back down through the Sunasenri.

Stay safe and I hope to see you on a climb in Aso soon!


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