Tokachi/Furano


Shikaribetsu Gorge (然別峡), nestled into the southeastern foothills of the Daisetsu National Park in central Hokkaido, is home to a number of natural, wild hot spring onsen. In winter, the only way to get to them is on skis or snowshoes. The furthest (and most impressive) hot spring from the trailhead is Chinika-no-yu (チニカの湯). Even still, it is only 30 minutes along a snow-bound forestry road. Good camping options abound in the area, so this makes for a unique overnight Hokkaido ski touring experience.

Shikaribetsu Gorge Hot Springs Ski Camping (central Hokkaido, Japan)


Mt. Sahoro (佐幌岳, 1,060m) is a prominent peak just north of the Karikachi Pass (狩勝峠, 644m) in central Hokkaido. Generally, the winter approach follows the summer trail along the ridge from the Karikachi Pass to the peak. Near the peak is the bunker-like Sahoro-sanso Hut (佐幌山荘). This will set you up for an early-morning run down the Sahoro Ski Area before climbing back up and back the way you came (or hitching a ride back) to the Karikachi Pass. Sahoro Resort is also home to one of the best brown-bear parks in Hokkaido.

Mt. Sahoro and Sahoro-Sanso Hut ski touring (Hokkaido, Japan)


Mt. Maetokachi (前十勝岳, 1,790m) can be approached from a few different angles. The classic, easily navigable route heads up the Kabawara Ridge (route guide here), but that can sometimes be buffeted by high winds (as on this trip). If the weather is otherwise clear with good visibility, then it might be worth hopping from one sheltered rocky outcrop to another, and taking some time out of the wind at the very basic Tokachi Emergency Shelter Hut. From the shelter it is possible to access a nice downhill run in a bowl that runs all the way from the very active Taisho Crater (大正火口) fumeroles back to the hut.

Mt. Maetokachi Taisho Crater ski touring route and Tokachi-dake Hut ...



Mt. Furano (富良野岳 - 1,912m) is a formidable mountain, whose peak is only accessible in winter by mountaineers with extensive experience. The lower reaches on its northwest aspect, however, offer some great accessible skiing up to around the 1,500m mark. In particular, the broad northwest ridge - the "Giant Ridge" - offers access to some relatively safe ridge-line skiing. In this route guide, I outline a 4.5 hour return trip up to the 1,500m point and back on the Giant Ridge.

Backcountry skiing Mt. Furano’s Giant Ridge (Hokkaido, Japan)


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)


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 ...



Mt. Maetokachi (前十勝岳, 1,790m) is another classic staple for backcountry skiing in the Tokachi Ranges. Its broad, plank-like north-western face is a veritable playground of wide gullies and snow-fields. Here, I outline the classic Kabawara Ridge route, which is the most-traveled route on the mountain for backcountry skiing. Like Mt. Sandan, the route is accessed from the hopelessly amazing Hakuginso Lodge - a mountain lodge boasting to be the "mecca of powder" with everything you could possibly want: onsen hotsprings, a large communal kitchen, a large basement drying room, friendly staff, and only 2,750yen a night.

Mt. Maetokachi Kabawara Ridge backcountry ski touring (Hokkaido, Japan)


Mt. Sandan (三段山, 1,748m) is a classic staple for backcountry skiing in the Tokachi Ranges, and is renowned for its powder snow. The route starts and ends on an old ski area, so even the lower reaches on the downhill allow for fun tree-free runs. The route is accessed from the hopelessly amazing Hakuginso Lodge - a mountain lodge boasting to be the "mecca of powder" with everything you could possibly want: onsen hotsprings, a large communal kitchen, a large basement drying room, friendly staff, and only 2,750yen a night. On a clear day you'll be able to see across to the Furano Plains and Mashike Ranges.

Hokkaido Ski Touring: Mt. Sandan-yama and Hakuginso Lodge (Tokachi region)