Winter Adventures and Ski Touring in Hokkaido

Hokkaido is a winter wonderland from mid-December to late-April. Masses of dry powder fall around the island. In this section of the website, I share some of my trips into the Hokkaido backcountry in winter. Ski touring, mountain huts, GPS route files, and trip reports.



The approach to Mt. Soranuma-dake (空沼岳 – 1,251m) is a convoluted mess of topography which doesn’t lend well for great downhill skiing. Don’t let that put you off though. The old forester’s outpost Bankei Hut (万計山荘) is worth the effort, and the national park landscape is magical. We did the […]

Mt. Soranuma-dake Overnight Ski Tour (Hokkaido, Japan)


When Chitose City in Hokkaido, Japan, finally gets enough snow (around the beginning of January), the local ski field grinds into action. The tow-rope lift is a brutal contraption, but once you’re used to it, the 60yen per ride (or a whopping 500yen for a day-pass) feels like the bargain […]

Chitose City Ski Field: A one-run wonder micro-resort



The circuit track around Lake Hangetsu, at the foot of Mt. Yotei, is hardly the place for alpine skis. But with an abundance of bird-life at the trailhead, good views, and just enough elevation gain to make the second half fun, this is a great spot for honing the kick-and-glide […]

Hangetsu Lake Circuit: A fun side-trip on skis



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 […]

Chisenupuri Ski Area ski touring (near Niseko, Japan)




Mt. Tokushubetsu – the mountain with the impossibly complex Japanese characters (徳舜瞥山) – is one of those classic Hokkaido backcountry hills. Similar to Mt. Shakotan further northeast, it makes for a fairly straight-forward half-day spring trip – one that beginners and experienced skiers will enjoy. Rick, Jeff and I headed […]

Hokkaido Ski Touring: Mt. Tokushunbetsu (1,309m) half-day spring ski tour


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)




The Yama-no-ie Hut, tucked below Mt. Okuteine on the outer reaches of Sapporo City, is everything you can expect from a mountain hut managed by largely ambivalent Japanese university students: dingy, messy, and a glowing red-hot potbelly stove kept that way by the intrepid first-year students who hauled the coal […]

Hokkaido Ski Touring: Mt. Okuteine, Yama-no-ie Hut and Mt. Tsuge ...




Since moving to Hokkaido here in northern Japan, I’ve been getting more and more into enjoying the winter backcountry hills here. So, I finally got around to attending a two-day avalanche awareness course, run by Whiteroom Tours in Niseko. Overall it was an extremely professional, thorough course with an instructor […]

Whiteroom Tours Avalanche Awareness Course (Niseko, Hokkaido, Japan)



With a gradual approach and nothing technical, Mt. Shakotan (1,255m) is a beginner back-country skier’s dream. And being the highest spot on the sprawling Shakotan Peninsula, the views are some of the best in western Hokkaido. Perfect for a very late spring season trip to the mountains, only a few […]

Hokkaido Back Country Skiing: Mt. Shakotan (Fumi Route)



Mt. Yoichi (1,488m) is the highest peak within the Sapporo City limits. Despite this, it is extremely accessible – it overlooks Kiroro Ski Resort, so take the ski lift to the resorts upper reaches, and you’re more or less there. But to truly experience Mt. Yoichi’s enchanting snowy wilderness, the […]

Hokkaido Back Country Skiing: Mt. Yoichi (Akai-kawa Route)


Mt. Fuppushi (風不死岳, 1,102m), around 60km due south of Sapporo City, is the oft-overlooked big brother to his shorter sibling Mt. Tarumae (樽前山 1,041m). But while everyone gapes at Mt. Tarumae's smoldering cork,  Mt. Fuppushi awaits the more intrepid climber, keen to tackle something steeper and more off the beaten track; it is recommended in most guide books only for experienced climbers in the winter.

Hokkaido Back Country Skiing: Mt. Fuppushi (Kitaone Route)