Vietnamese Mountaineers Fearlessly Reach the Summit of Japan’s Snowy Peaks

With 8 years of experience working in Japan, Van Hoai is an avid mountain climber who has successfully conquered numerous stunning snow-covered peaks across the country.


Nguyen Van Hoai, a 28-year-old, currently works as an input quality inspector for an automobile company in Japan. He has been living and working in Japan for 8 years.

Although he hadn’t had the chance to climb mountains in Vietnam before, it was in 2021 when Hoai developed a love for this sport. Previously, he had a strong passion for photography. After seeing the breathtaking photos taken on Mount Karasawa and Tateyama, he decided to climb these two mountains to capture the perfect shots himself.

Nguyen Van Hoai, 28 years old, is currently an input quality inspector for an automobile company in Japan. Photo: Nguyen Van Hoai

Since those two unforgettable trips, Hoai has developed a passion for exploring the natural scenery, mountains, and forests of Japan. He has been regularly climbing mountains and achieving significant success.

Hoai has lost count of the number of mountains he has climbed so far. He has conquered more than 10 snow-covered peaks, including Karamatsu, Fuji, Yarigatake, Kitadake, Norikura, Tateyama, Kiso, Karasawa, Ibuki, Daisen, and Arashima. He has climbed several peaks 3-4 times due to their unique beauty in each season.

After the two most memorable first trips, Hoai began to feel passionate about the natural scenery, mountains, and forests of Japan. Photo: Nguyen Van Hoai

Recently, Hoai’s photo album featuring his climbing journey on Mount Karamatsu at the end of December received great attention from the Vietnamese climbing community.

Karamatsu is a mountain located in the Northern Alps region, with gentle terrain. Visitors can travel by cable car to reach the starting point.

After more than 2 hours of climbing, the group reached Happo Lake, where they were able to enjoy the breathtaking view of Goryu Peak with its long, steep slopes covered in snow. The scene resembled the majestic mountains over 5,000m high in Nepal or India.

Hoai and his climbing team. Photo: Nguyen Van Hoai

Van Hoai, who has climbed numerous mountains, was deeply impressed by this stunning scenery both visually and emotionally.

The most challenging part of the journey was when the group reached an altitude of approximately 2,400 meters and encountered a treacherous mountainside with strong winds blowing at speeds of over 20 m/s. Combined with the unexpectedly bitter cold, it took the group more than 1 and a half hours to cross this mountainside.

“That day, the weather forecast predicted light winds and a minimum temperature of only about -7 degrees Celsius. However, the actual temperature dropped as low as -20 degrees Celsius. The freezing night cold could prevent sleep if sufficient warm clothing is not worn. Additionally, the water bottles they brought with them were susceptible to freezing, so the group had to continuously boil water to make it drinkable,” Hoai shared.

The 28-year-old man shared that soon, he plans to climb Mount Fuji again even though he has climbed it twice. Photo: Nguyen Van Hoai

Though Hoai remained calm due to his prior experience, he was concerned about his team members as they crossed the windy mountainside. There were moments when some of them felt exhausted from battling the strong winds and suffered from hypothermia, wanting to give up. However, with the support and companionship of the whole group, they successfully overcame this challenge. When the campsite appeared before their eyes, everyone was filled with excitement.

The strong wind slowed the group’s speed more than expected. They took the opportunity to set up a tent and quickly climbed to the top, which was only 30 minutes away, just in time to witness the sunset.

“Standing at the top of Karamatsu Mountain, watching the sunset, is an indescribable and wonderful feeling. The long journey made everyone forget about their hunger and fatigue. The bright yellow sky and the sun’s rays casting upon the surrounding mountains covered in white snow created a breathtaking view. The whole group congratulated each other on their successful summit and made sure to capture these incredible moments,” Hoai remarked.

The next day, everyone woke up at 4:30 a.m. to cook and clean the tent, ensuring enough time to climb to the point of sunrise, which was only 20 minutes away from the tent area. At 7:00 a.m., the group began descending the mountain.

The snow-covered Karamatsu mountain. Photo: Nguyen Van Hoai

One notable aspect of this journey was when the group was descending from the peak to the camping ground, they encountered a man who was also looking for a place to set up his tent.

“Initially, my group assumed he was Japanese, so we greeted him in Japanese. However, to our surprise, he turned out to be Vietnamese. No one could have imagined running into fellow countrymen in such a place. As it was already dark and cold, the group quickly helped him set up his tent. Following that, the group invited him to share a dinner of two spicy and sour hot pots and a bottle of whiskey,” Hoai said. He added, “Climbing mountains provides me with entirely new experiences, allowing me to relax and immerse myself in nature, temporarily forgetting about the chaos in life. It has also enabled me to forge new relationships and make friends who share the same passion in Japan and Vietnam.”

Soon, he hopes to climb some famous places in Nepal such as Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Base Camp. Photo: Nguyen Van Hoai

Van Hoai, at the age of 28, plans to climb Mount Fuji again, despite having already conquered it twice. He also has ambitions to climb renowned destinations in Nepal, such as Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Base Camp.

Charlotte Pho