Mt. Shakotan Spring Ski Touring 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)


TRIP REPORT With some settled weather forecast for this Sunday, Haidee and I made a dash for Mt. Shakotan (積丹岳, 1,255m). We were only two weeks into a busy start to the academic year, but we needed some time out to get some exercise and refresh the mind. Mt. Shakotan had been hit with 100km/h winds the day before, so the lower areas were strewn with twigs and branches, but beyond the treeline we got some good views and skiing.

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

We got off to an early start from southern Sapporo City, trying to get to the trailhead by around 9:30am. Taking the paid highway got us out of the city fairly quickly. By the time we got to the trailhead, however, we appeared to be some of the last to arrive. There were up to ten cars parked along the road, as well as two large Japan Self Defense Force infantry trucks.

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

As expected from the high winds from the day before, the lower reaches of the route were strewn with branches and twigs. Coming down this was going to be interesting.

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Compared with last year, when I visited Mt. Shakotan for an overnight trip, it felt like quite a short distance to the hut. Last year we had to scramble up the gully to the climber’s left of the forestry road, because the road had been cleared down to the gravel.

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Being well into spring by now, it was hot work as we climbed. Boots were sweaty and hot, leading to some uncomfortable rubbing and small blisters.

The spring weather was a boon for Haidee, however, who is a keen birder. Part way up from the hut to the treeline we came upon an area with at least four or five great spotted woodpeckers.

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

It wasn’t long before we were out of the trees, and skirting around towards the summit. There was very little wind, and some great views back towards the sea to the east and Mt. Yotei to the west.

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

It wasn’t long before we were out of the trees, and skirting around towards the summit. There was very little wind, and some great views back towards the sea to the east and Mt. Yotei to the west.

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

While the views from the summit across Mt. Yobetsu (余別岳, 1,298m) are great, the highlight for me this time was the gorgeous golden Labrador that appeared on the summit with its owners. They’d made the long trip to Mt. Yobetsu, and were just now arriving at Mt. Shakotan.

The beautiful dog clearly loved being out in the hills, and wanted all the attention it could get from whoever would give it to him.

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

We reluctantly said goodbye to the adorable doggy and started our descent. Above the treeline, the snow was fantastic, fast spring snow.

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Back below the treeline, however, the snow was grippy. Luckily, someone had been up to the summit on a snow-mobile in the preceding days. Following their tracks allowed for a much faster gauntlet-run down through the trees.

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Just below the main Mt. Shakotan Hut (where you can stay the night), I was surprised to come across another hut. This hut is not marked on any maps I have, nor is it listed in any of the Hokkaido mountain hut lists I’ve seen. I can only assume it is a privately owned and maintained hut. It was unlocked, but in quite a state of disrepair. It looks like the hut is called the Poroehui Hut (ポロエフイ小屋). Its location is right here: https://goo.gl/maps/WH2fpEG5Vuv

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

After gathering the intel on the hut, we carried on down the dodge-em course that was the forestry road. The snow was seriously thin in some places.

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

We’d only had some snacks and a rice ball each while on the mountain, so we were happy to find that the restaurant on the main road near the trailhead had opened for the season just the previous day (location here). Our very late (3pm) lunch consisted of a crumbed potato set meal for Haidee and I had the gingered pork.

We then dropped in to the Furubira Onsen (here) for a soak before heading back home to Sapporo.

Mt. Shakotan Spring Skiing 2018 (Hokkaido, Japan)

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