Mt. Kokimobetsu-dake (小喜茂別岳 - 970m) is the little-sibling of the higher Mt. Kimobetsu-dake (喜茂別岳 - 1,177m) further to the north (Mt. Kimobetsu-dake route guide here). Access to Mt. Kokimobetsu-dake is just as easy though, and its mellow slopes are great for those just getting their feet wet in backcountry skiing. Expect a beginner to intermediate slope at the upper end of the route that is perfect for lapping a couple of times before heading down.

Mt. Kokimobetsu-dake Ski Touring (Nakayama Pass, Hokkaido, Japan)


The route up Mt. Onuma (大沼山 - 1,111m) near the Toyoha Mine in Jozankei (southwestern Sapporo City) may become your next favorite Hokkaido backcountry ski touring route. It is close to Sapporo City. The climb up is short; only about 2 hours or so. The terrain is suitably varied. On a clear day it boasts some magnificent views. But the real cherry on the cake is its downhill slopes. The upper, mostly tree-free slope is worthy of a few exhilarating laps, while the second half of the route back down to the carpark is a glorious dodge-em ride through nicely spaced woods.

Mt. Onuma Backcountry Ski Touring (Jozankei, Hokkaido, Japan)


I've been up to the Ginreiso Hut (銀嶺荘) on Mt. Haruka (春香山 - 910m) a number of times now in most seasons. It is one of only three huts in Hokkaido to boast a year-round hut-keeper (Mt. Tarumae Hut and Mt. Muroran's Shiratori Hut being the others). In winter it is a gorgeous, cosy oasis at the foot of Mt. Haruka's upper eastern face, giving prime ski access to easy lapping of tree- and open-runs. While the hut is owned by Tokai University and officially designated as a staff and student retreat facility, the general public are welcome to stay with prior booking when the hutkeeper is present.

Mt. Haruka Ginreiso Hut Overnight Ski Tour (Otaru City, Hokkaido, ...



Mt. Asahi (旭岳 - 2,291m), Hokkaido's highest mountain, is an active volcano. In winter when the weather isn't blowing a gale, it is possible to wander relatively freely around the fumaroles, at around 1,700m. The route outlined here starts at the top of the Asahidake Ropeway, but if you'd rather skin up, just follow the Asahidake downhill ski course B, marked on the descent of the route on this page - it will take about 1.5 hours or so. Don't take the mountain lightly, as the weather can change very quickly. If you're lucky, however, the grand old Mt. Asahi can turn on some incredible weather.

Mt. Asahidake Volcanic Steam-vent Ski Touring (Hokkaido, Japan)


As the highest peak on the Lake Kussharo caldera, Mt. Mokoto (藻琴山, 1000m) gives expansive views on a good day across the vast lake in eastern Hokkaido. A new hut was built on its northern ridge in 2013, so makes for a relatively easy (if not too short) overnight trip. Google searches for information about the route return a higher than usual number of ‘first time backcountry skiing’ reports; navigation is easy and slopes are beginner-friendly. In good weather, this should be a great way for novices to experience some of the Hokkaido winter great outdoors.

Mt. Mokoto Overnight Ski Tour (Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido, Japan)
















In late-April and early-May, thousands upon thousands of migratory geese make a stop-off at Miyajima Pond, just 50km northeast of Sapporo City. This happens to be around the time of the Golden-Week public holidays in Japan. This makes for a perfect excuse for an uber-extended weekend cycle tour of up […]

ROUTE GUIDE: Four-day Goose-watching Cycle Tour (Hokkaido, Japan)









Shakotan Hut provides an excellent base from which to explore peaks such as Mt. Shakotan-dake (積丹岳 – 1,255m) or Mt. Yobetsu (余別岳 – 1,298m) on the Shakotan Peninsula. About 40 minutes from the end of the snow-cleared section of dirt road, this is a public-transport accessible hut, free to use for […]

Shakotan Hut and Mt. Shakotan-dake Ski Tour (Hokkaido, Japan)


I hadn’t expected such a grandiose summit at the top of Mt. Mekunnai (目国内岳 – 1,220m). The summit looks pointy from a distance, but we were not prepared for the great frozen mountain of boulders, encrusted in a winter’s worth of wind-blown snow and frost, that greeted us almost out of […]

Mt. Mekunnai Ski Tour (Niseko Range, Hokkaido, Japan)




I once saw a photo of Mt. Piyashiri’s summit hut, encrusted in gale-crusted snow, and it launched my keen desire to do an overnight trip there in mid-winter. Hiro was mad enough (or perhaps naïve enough) to come along, so we made the 3-hour drive north from Sapporo, diving head-first […]

Mt. Piyashiri Summit Hut and Ski Touring (Hokkaido, Japan)


Last year I was here at Hakuginso Lodge (Fukiage Onsen) with three fellows from France and a fellow from Germany (story here). Today I was back with my brother-in-law from New Zealand to try our luck at Mt. Maetokachi (前十勝岳 – 1,790m). I was keen to capture this active volcano’s […]

Mt. Maetokachi ski tour and Hakuginso Lodge for the second ...


This ‘ski-by-numbers’ ski touring route is a beauty. The red ski-tour-specific trail markers, starting at #1 at Shokanso Hut (290m), make for relatively straightforward navigation up to around 1,000m in altitude. To summit Mt. Shokanbetsu (署寒別岳 – 1,491m) however, you’ll need near-perfect conditions and an early start. Right on the […]

Shokanso Hut and Mt. Shokanbetsu (署寒別岳 – 1,491m) Ski Touring ...