Rakko-dake

楽古岳

Posted on Dec 23, 2020
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Posted on Dec 23, 2020

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Reading time: 3 min

8.5km

Distance

6hrs

Time

1053m

Ascent

1472m

Highest point

6/10

Difficulty

Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)
June-Oct

Best season

The sharp pyramid of Rakko-dake (楽古岳, 1472m) anchors the southern end of the wild Hidaka range as it marches down to the Pacific Ocean at Cape Erimo. From the summit one can see both the sea and the sharp spine of the mountain range as it snakes north. The relatively easy access makes it a good way to sample the remote atmosphere of these hills. There is a well-appointed hut at the trailhead that is worth a stay if you have the time.

We visited this route on Aug 08, 2012

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Rakko-dake lies inland from the small fishing town of Samani 様似 down near Cape Erimo 襟裳岬. It is accessed off Route 236 which crosses the Hidaka Range to join the towns of Hidaka Horobetsu 日高幌別 and Hiroo 広尾. The hike starts at Rakko Sanso Hut, here.

General notes

According to the explorer Matsuura Takeshiro, the Ainu origin of the mountain’s name comes from the rakko or sea otter, a valuable fur animal for Ainu hunters, found down where the local rivers flowed into the sea. This region is rich in Ainu history, being the cradle of the 1669 war instigated by the powerful local leader Shakushain against the Japanese Matsumae clan.

The recent and well-appointed Rakko Sanso 楽古山荘 hut stands at the trailhead. It is also possible to camp just outside. The nearest shops and other facilities are back down in the coastal towns of Urakawa and Samani.

The early section of the route along the river has suffered extensive typhoon damage and it is now necessary to cross the river numerous times. After heavy rain this could be dangerous or even impossible. Local hikers often take a pair of river sandals or trainers for this section then leave them at the foot of the main climb.

Route Timing
Up | 3.5hrs
Down | 2.5hrs
Route

From the trailhead at 360m the path initially goes up beside the small Menashunbetsu River. This part of the route has suffered typhoon damage and is rough in places as well as necessitating crossing and recrossing the stream six times. Look out for signs and tape markers. After 45 mins to an hour make a final crossing over to the right (north) bank at Kami-futamata 上二股, 470m. From here the climbing begins in earnest up a ridge, steep and thick with sasa dwarf bamboo in places, to a shoulder at about 1300m. The trail turns right (east) and more easily on up through bushes and haimatsu to the summit, around 2.5 to 3 hours after leaving the river bed. Return the same way.

Transport

Public transport:

No public transport access.

By car: 

From the coast at Hidaka Horobetsu take Route 236 for about 15km before turning off right over a bridge onto a gravel forest road signposted for Rakko-dake trailhead and hut 楽古岳登山口 and 楽古山荘. Follow this mainly through farmland for around 8km to the hut, here.

 

Hut(s)

Rakko Sanso Hut (full details here)

Rakko Sanso 楽古山荘 hut is a recent and well appointed two-story hut, standing at the trailhead to Rakko-dake in the southern Hidaka Range. It is also possible to camp just outside. The hut is accessed via an 8km forestry road. The nearest shops and other facilities are back down in the coastal towns of Urakawa and Samani.

Physical maps
GSI Topo Map: Rakkodake (楽古岳) – map no. NK-54-3-15-3

NOTE: The GSI 1/25000 topo map(s) above can be purchased for 350yen each from Kinokuniya bookstore next to Sapporo Station or online (in Japanese).

route safety

The Hidaka mountains are remote and the summits are exposed so be fully equipped for possible bad weather and carry enough food and water. After heavy rain the river crossings may be difficult or even impossible. Bears are numerous around here so take precautions and watch out for ticks in summer.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Rakko-dake

Onsen nearby

On your way back west along the coast, you may want to check out Mitsuishi Konbu Onsen みついし昆布温泉 蔵三 (450yen, location). They have an attached restaurant and amazing coastal views from the outdoor baths.

Extra Resources

Guide Options

If you’d like to hike this route and/or explore other areas of central Hokkaido with a local certified guide, then contact Jun Ishiguro. He’s a JMGA (Japan Mountain Guides Association) mountain guide on the board of directors of the Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA). As a senior figure in the Hokkaido guiding scene, and with extensive experience, he can tailor trips to your needs. See a full list of English-speaking Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA) guides on the HMGA website here

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

After a pre-dawn start from Sapporo and a long drive, Leon, Matt and I finally arrived at the trailhead still with plenty of time to make the hike up. We left the car by the hut, after noting approvingly that it looked very comfortable, a welcome sight since we planned to stay the night.

On the road up to the hut we had noticed bear droppings and soon after setting off along the trail we came across a very fresh offering slap bang in the middle of the path. Thankfully the perpetrator appeared to have left the scene so we carried on, senses heightened to the surroundings.

After a while we reached the end of the riverbank path and forded the stream to begin the climb in earnest (this was before the typhoon damage that destroyed the trail so it now requires crossing and recrossing six times). Up to the shoulder was long and steep but perversely I always enjoy the uphill and once I found my rhythm I pulled away steadily. The clouds came and went as I gained height. From the shoulder I negotiated my way along the final ridge through the haimatsu to the open summit and its colourful sign (since replaced) and waited for the others to join me.

The clouds lifted and the sun came out while we had lunch allowing us views across to the Tokachi coast and northwards along the spine of the mountain range. Then we headed back down the long steep descent to the river. By this time it had started to rain and as we trudged back along the riverside path we were looking forward to checking out the hut. It proved to be clean and spacious and we had it all to ourselves, a perfect way to end my first day in the Hidakas.

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Rakko-dake Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

A

40

Time ascending

C

3

Technicality

Altitude

A

10

Hazards

D

Navigation

D

Totals

53/100

GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.