Senjaku Plateau Late-Spring Ski Tour (Mt. Muine, Hokkaido, Japan)


This classic close-to-Sapporo route provides a unique view of the Jozankei topography. On a clear day, you’ll be treated to a full-frontal view of Mt. Yotei to the northwest. We did the route in mid-May, and there was just enough snow left to make it a bit of bush-bashing fun.

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Essential Info

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Difficulty?


Dec~Mar
Best season?

  • Topographical maps: For topographical maps, you can either print out what you want from the Geospacial Information Authority of Japan here (Senjaku Plateau 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).
    • Muineyama (無意根山) – map no. NK-54-14-15-3
  • Snow and route safety
    • Note that the route time indicated above is only to the Senjaku Plateau. Add another 3 hours if you intend to go all the way to the Mt. Muine summit.
    • Mt. Muine boasts the largest number of avalanche fatalities of any mountain in the Sapporo region. This is primarily due to its popularity, but also due to the steep eastward slopes and overall tight, deep run-out gullies. Make conservative decisions on high-risk days.
  • Other resources: See the write-up (in Japanese) from p. 140 of the Yuki-yama Guide (ISBN: 978-4894538047).
  • Getting there and away
    • Public transport: There are no public transport options for this route. 
    • By car: The mine road is usually cleared in winter up to the start of the summer route up Mt. Muine, here: https://goo.gl/maps/qpFb8Z1hoBK2
  • Onsen neaby: To get to the trailhead, you’ll pass through the Jozankei Onsen area. Out of the numerous onsen in this area, I’ve been to Hoheikyo Onsen (massive outdoor bath, but can be busy on weekends) and Keiryuso Hotel (smaller outdoor bath area, but not as crowded).
  • Weather forecast (Google Translated): Tenkura pinpoint for Mt. Munie
  • Date visited: May 14th, 2017

Route Map with GPS Trace (Full Route GPX file)

Climb and Ski Report

From the Yuki-yama Guidebook:

“Mt. Muine is a platform-shaped mountain that can be seen southwest from Sapporo City’s Ishiyama suburbs. It is Sapporo City’s second-highest mountain after Mt. Yoichi. From Senjaku Plateau to the summit of Mt. Muine is a long, flat, easy-to-lose-one’s way ridge. During unstable weather in mid-winter, that part of the route demands some serious mountaineering skills. The Senjaku Plateau, however, can be accessed even in bad weather and can be very satisfying, so this part of the route is worthy of its own route guide.” Yuki-yama Guide, 2015, p. 140

A back-country ski trip in mid-May, 30 minutes drive from central Sapporo. I didn’t really consider it possible until a guy from my workplace outdoor club suggested we check Mt. Muine out. A week later, we were skinning from the trailhead on the last wisps of snow left on the forestry-road approach, and threading our way along labyrinth-puzzle tracts of snow that weaved through towering sasa bamboo.

Before long, the snow was thick enough to cover most of the sasa bamboo, and it was relatively easy going. Flaky-barked trees dot the hillside as the route climbs out of the gullies.

Before making the final half-hour push to the plateau, we stopped at around 920m for lunch. We dug seats and a table in the snow, and the ultra-prepared Prof. Tsunoda got his jetboils cranking. Boiled sausages were quite the treat, as were toasted marshmallows.

The final push up to the plateau is punctuated by a steep “step” up, which requires some patient kick-turn-traversing. After that, it is plain sailing, along a wide ridge to the top. Expansive 360 degree views await. Strong winds for us on this day too.

Muine-yama Chiseki Plateau Ski Touring (Hokkaido, Japan)

Muine-yama Chiseki Plateau Ski Touring (Hokkaido, Japan)

Muine-yama Chiseki Plateau Ski Touring (Hokkaido, Japan)

Muine-yama Chiseki Plateau Ski Touring (Hokkaido, Japan)

From the plateau we took a different ridge back down, slightly to the south of the ridge we were on on the way up. A large bowl at the upper reaches allowed some well-earned turns before we started picking our way across undergrowth.

Muine-yama Chiseki Plateau Ski Touring (Hokkaido, Japan)

Muine-yama Chiseki Plateau Ski Touring (Hokkaido, Japan)

Muine-yama Chiseki Plateau Ski Touring (Hokkaido, Japan)

Considering how late we were in the season, we were quite happy with only having to walk about 20 minutes from the last bits of snow to the cars. A thoroughly enjoyable last hurrah of the season.

Muine-yama Chiseki Plateau Ski Touring (Hokkaido, Japan)

Muine-yama Chiseki Plateau Ski Touring (Hokkaido, Japan)

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