Southern Daisetsuzan Traverse: Tomuraushi to Oputateshike

Posted on Feb 27, 2019
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Posted on Feb 27, 2019

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18 2
Reading time: 2 min
36km

Distance

22 hours

Time

2590m

Ascent

2141m

Highest point

9/10

Difficulty

Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)
Jul-Sept

Best season

Mt Tomuraushi (トムラウシ山, 2141m) stands at the southern end of the main Daisetsuzan range and is one of the prized 100 Famous Mountains (hyakumeizan) of Japan, known for its remoteness and alpine flowers. It can be done as a long day hike, but this three-day expedition continues southwest along a rough and less-travelled trail to link up with the string of active volcanic peaks that make up the Tokachi Range. Wild mountain camps, some tough bushwhacking and the fine summit ridge of Oputateshike (オプタテシケ山, 2013m) make this a challenging but rewarding high-level trek.

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Tomuraushi-yama is located at the southern end of the Daisetsu mountain range in central Hokkaido. This three-day backpacking route traverses across to the Tokachi Range which runs southwest from Daisetsuzan to near Furano. The hike starts at the very end of the Tomarushi Onsen (トムラウシ温泉) access road, on the southern flanks of the mountain. It ends at the car park at Bogakudai (望岳台) below Tokachi-dake, a few kilometres above Shirogane Onsen (白金温泉). It could easily be extended to take in more of the peaks of the Tokachi Range such as Biei-dake (美瑛岳) if you have an extra day.

General notes

The best season for this walk is July to early September. You will almost certainly have to stay a night at the trailhead at Tomuraushi Onsen before you start, either at the single large lodge (Higashi-Daisetsuso 東大雪荘, tel: 0156 65 3021) or the campsite nearby (400yen, pay at the lodge). The campsite has basic facilities but water must be boiled or filtered. The trek ends at a popular car parking area from where you will either need to hitch a lift or walk another few kilometres down to Shirogane Onsen (hot springs, accommodation, campsite and bus to Biei Town). There is a hiking course marked on the map taking a couple of hours but I have never done it.

Camping: You need to be completely self-sufficient which means carrying a tent, and all food and fuel etc for at least three days. Finding water can be an issue; a water filter is worth having as you can refill along the way if possible. Camping in the national park is only permitted at designated campsites. Some are next to huts and have access to toilet facilities. Others, including the two on this route, are just open sites with no toilet facilities, although the Minami Tomuraushi site has a booth where you can do your business in a portable toilet (see below). Water is obtained from streams fed by snowmelt and must be boiled or filtered. The water sources can dry up later in the season; at the Futagoike site below Oputateshike it was little more than a trickle when we stayed there in early August.

Pack it out: There is an increasing problem with human waste pollution around these camping grounds. The park authorities are encouraging the use of ‘portable toilets’. These toilet kits can be bought for a couple of hundred yen at outdoor stores and consist of a large plastic bag into which you do your business, then add the contents of a magic sachet that solidifies and deodorizes the waste. You then seal this in the provided strong Ziploc-type bag, double-bag it, and pack it out to dispose of later. Some trailheads have special bins for this. If you find this procedure gross, better stick to day hikes!

Huts: There are no huts conveniently located for an overnight stay. On the third day the route passes the unmanned Bieifuji Refuge (see below).

Hut

Bieifuji Refuge Hut (full details here)

The unmanned Bieifuji Refuge Hut (美瑛富士避難小屋, capacity 20) is a small, very basic prefab hut with no toilet, near Mt. Bieifuji in the southern Daisetsuzan Range in Hokkaido.

Route markers

The trail is well defined though muddy and/or rough in places. There are occasional splashes of yellow paint and large wooden signposts (in Japanese) at trail junctions. Times are approximate, do not include lengthy breaks for meals or frequent selfie stops, and will vary with conditions and fitness.

Day 1: From the trailhead by the Higashi-Daisetsu Lodge begin the climb up through the forest. This first section can be shortened by driving further up a forest road so day walkers with cars tend to skip it – you may be able to get a lift. After the junction where the shortcut trail merges (1.5 – 2hrs) continue up and along a ridge before dropping down steeply to Komadorizawa (コマドリ沢) in another 2hrs or so. Cross the stream and climb up through a boulder field to Maetomudaira (前トム平) (1hr). From here the trail passes through flower meadows and rock gardens up to the campsite and trail junction (トムラウシ分岐) near the Minaminuma campsite (南沼キャンプ指定地) (1.5 hrs). The summit of Tomuraushi is a 20min climb from the junction.

Day 2: Head west along the easy broad ridge to Sansendai (三川台) (2hrs). From here the trail gets rougher and runs though dwarf juniper thickets, turning south then southwest over the minor peaks of Tsuriganeyama (ツリガネ山) and Kosumanupuri (コスマヌプリ) to Futagoike (双子池) and the Futagoike campsite (双子池キャプ指定地) below Oputateshike (4-5hrs).

Day 3: Climb the imposing bulk of Oputateshike (オプタテシケ山) (2hrs). Descend the ridge and over Bebetsudake (ベベツ岳) and Ishigakiyama (石垣山) to the trail junction above the Bieifuji Refuge (美瑛富士避難小屋) (2hrs). Continue to the Bieifuji Bunki (美瑛富士分岐) trail junction in 30mins. From here (unless you have the time and energy to bag Bieidake in front of you) take the traverse path that drops down to the west, joining up with the path from Bieidake at (美瑛岳分岐) after 50mins. Drop down a steep rough section to a stream, then continue traversing around and across another stream (with steep banks and a ladder) to the junction at Kumonodaira Bunki (雲ノ平分岐) (1.5 hrs) below Tokachidake. From here it’s a 45min walk down to the trailhead at Bogakudai (望岳台).

Route Timing

Day 1: 7hrs

Day 2: 7hrs

Day 3: 8hrs

Transport

Public transport:

To Tomuraushi Onsen: From Shintoku JR Station there is a bus operated by Hokkaido Takushoku Bus Company (0155 31 8811) during the main season (mid-July to mid-August, check the dates with the company). There are two services daily in each direction, 2000 yen one way. Booking is highly advised. If you are staying at the Higashi-Daisetsu Lodge there may be a shuttle bus service – enquire to the lodge (TEL: 0156-65-3021).

Shirogane Onsen: Five buses a day run to and from Biei JR Station. Dohoku Bus Company (0166 23 4161). 650 yen one way.

By car: 

There is ample parking at both ends of the route.

Physical maps
Official Topo Map: Oputateshike-yama (オプタテシケ山) – map no. NK-54-7-4-3
Official Topo Map 2: Tomuraushi-yama (トムラウシ山) – map no. NK-54-7-3-4
Official Topo Map 3: Shirogane Onsen (白金温泉) – map no. NK-54-7-8-1

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

route safety

This route takes you into the wild interior of the mountain range away from more popular day hike areas and on to quieter, rougher and more isolated trails. Daisetsuzan is a dangerous place in bad weather with real risks of hypothermia for poorly equipped hikers; there is a very real reminder of that on this route as it takes you through the terrain of the tragic Tomuraushi Incident of 2009. Conditions can change quickly, it is very exposed to the wind and the upper slopes can be much colder than down at the trailhead. Carry appropriate gear and enough emergency supplies to sit out bad weather if necessary. The ridges are mainly broad and featureless and it is possible to become disoriented in mist. There are no escape routes once you start the second day of the hike apart from one trail that drops down west from Sansendai to a remote forest road. Bears are numerous; take care when coming across fresh droppings and tracks. Don’t leave any litter or food refuse when camping.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Southern Daisetsuzan Traverse

Onsen nearby

The Higashi-Daisetsu Lodge at Tomuraushi Onsen allows campers to use the hot-spring baths (500yen). At Shirogane Onsen the Yumoto Shirogane Onsen Hotel has a nice outdoor bath by the river (800 yen).

Extra Resources
  • Some photos from the area around Bieifuji by the Hokkaido Hiking Logs here.
  • Details about Tomuraushi hiking by Hiking in Japan here and BestHikeJapan here.

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 and Director 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. 

Photo Gallery

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

Jeff and I did this trip in early August 2014. We had a forecast for three days of decent weather, and a pickup arranged from the car park at Bogakudai. After a day travelling by train and bus from Sapporo, we set up camp at the trailhead, eagerly anticipating the next three days. It would turn out to be a great trip, memorable for both its highs and lows.

Highlights

  • The early morning panorama of the Tokachi peaks emerging like a chain of islands from a sea of clouds below a flawless blue sky.
  • Remote campsites and tasty mountain pasta.
  • A kumataka (Hodgson’s Hawk Eagle) at the trailhead – not completely sure though.
  • A pika darting among the rocks below Maetomudaira.
  • A sighting from the summit of Tomuraushi of a bear trundling across a distant snowfield.
  • Meadows of flowers below Tomuraushi and on the broad open ridge to Sansendai.
  • The narrow summit ridge of Oputateshike in the mist, then the long high traverse to Beifuji.
  • Arriving at the pickup point hungry and thirsty to be greeted by our spouses with an organic takeaway curry and ice cold drinks.

Lowlights

  • A major gear failure when BOTH soles of Jeff’s cheap hiking boots came off completely; hardly amusing a few hours into a three-day trip. My emergency duct tape was useless in this case. Luckily he had a pair of sandals with him.
  • The long, rough and claustrophobic trail through the juniper between Sansendai and Futagoike, a lot of up and down on a hot and sticky afternoon. Not ideal in sandals.
  • Stressing about water, partly due to me underestimating the amount of fuel needed to boil the copious amounts of drinking water required by Jeff (he’s a big guy). We barely had enough – the first thing I did on getting back to Sapporo was to go out and buy a water filter.

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Comments | Queries | Reports

Done this route up Mt. Southern Daisetsuzan Traverse? Thinking of doing it? Please post any feedback or queries here. Thanks!

2 thoughts on “Southern Daisetsuzan Traverse: Tomuraushi to Oputateshike”

  1. Love it. Brings back memories. Sansendai to Futagoike is gut wrenching then throw in the brutal Oputateshike for good measure. Haha, can’t believe Daisetsuzan was my first real multi-day trek and second time in a tent! Awesome website. Can’t wait to get back up North!

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