Mt. Chisenupuri (チセヌプリ) is one of the classic Niseko-area backcountry ski locations. At the lower reaches is the Chisenupuri ski area, closed since 2013 (but re-opened for cat-skiing in December 2016). Word on the ground (when we did this trip in December 2016) is that the cat-skiing operation (run by Black Diamond Tours in Niseko) will allow backcountry skiiers/boarders to skin/hike up next to the cat tracks, but will be asking non-paying visitors to stay off the ski-area slopes.
- Chisenupuri Ski Area: From December 2016, Chisenupuri Ski Area has been re-opened for cat-skiing (see their Facebook page for information updates). After we had arrived back to the carpark after skiing down the ski area, a guy from Black Diamond Tours in Niseko approached us and let us know that they’d be putting signs up soon, allowing tourers to skin/hike up next to the cat-tracks, but dis-allowing non-paying visitors to ski down the official ski runs.
- Route GPS log: All the way to the top of Mt. Chisenupuri (GPX file here), or just the ski area (GPX file here).
- Route timing: Around one hour from the carpark to top of ski area, and another 70 minutes from there to the peak of Mt. Chisenupuri.
- Topographical maps: For topographical maps, you can either print out what you want from the Geospacial Information Authority of Japan here (Mt. Chisenupuri is in the cross-hairs), or buy the following 1:25,000 paper topo map (for 350yen) from a bookstore in Sapporo (such as Kinokuniya next to Sapporo Station).
- Chisenupuri (チセヌプリ) – map no. NK-54-20-7-4
- Snow safety: As per the Hokkaido Yukiyama Guide (p. 231), avoid the eastern slopes at the upper reaches of the route (at the summit of Mt. Chisenupuri), as well as the eastern gully slopes above the stream that heads into Oyunuma Lake, due to avalanche danger. At least 11 people have been recorded as involved in avalanches on the eastern and southeastern aspects of the mountain (Snow Damage Research Team, 2015, p. 270).
- Other resources: See the write-up (in Japanese) on p. 230 of the Yuki-yama Guide (ISBN: 978-4894538047).
- Weather forecast (Google Translated): Tenkura pinpoint
- Getting there and away: There are no public transport options for getting to the start of the winter route.
- Onsen neaby: There are plenty of onsen (hotspring) options close to this route. Goshiki Onsen (a 10 minute drive further up the hill – here) is highly recommended!
- Date visited: Dec 25th 2016
Route Map with GPS Trace (GPX file)
Climb and Ski Report
The day started fairly early, picking Haidee’s brother Josh up from his staff accommodation at 7am in lower Hirafu.
Therefore, we arrived at the Chisenupuri ski area car park plenty early at 8am. Already there were a couple of other hikers there – both snowboarders. I asked one of them about the new cat skiing operation that was rumored to have started this year. They said they’d heard that we might get told off for using the ski area, but that there weren’t any signs up, so we may as well make the most of it while we can. So we got going.
This would be Haidee’s first time skiing up a hill using skins, so we decided to get to the top of the ski area, and then see from there whether we’d carry on to the top of Mt. Chisenupuri.
We were either on or next to the cat-tracks most of the way up. Until it got steep enough that zig-zagging our way up was a more pleasant way to climb.
The top of the ski area was very windy, so we decided to call it quits, and ski back down.
Haidee’s ski setup, new for her this year, and her first ski touring setup, consists of last season’s Atomic Century 102 skis, Dynafit Radical ST 2.0 bindings, and Scarpa F1 Evo boots. Mercifully, the boots seem to be comfortable so far!
The way down was fairly average in terms of snow quality. The Niseko region had a day of rain two days prior to us being there, so there was a fairly tough crust under about 15cm of fresh snow. Add to that cat-tracks along the main ski run, and we had to pick our lines carefully. Furthermore, ideally you’d want to be here in at least late January – there was still bamboo sticking out in places.
There was still plenty of smiles to be had though!
We were down before 10am. Just in time to see a staff group heading up the hill in the cat. For the cool price of 30,000yen (around US$300), you too can have a day of being shuttled up the hill in warmth and style.