The Asahidake to Kurodake Traverse Hike

Posted on Feb 5, 2019
Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on twitter
Share on google
29 0

Posted on Feb 5, 2019

Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on twitter
Share on google
29 0
Reading time: 1 min
13km

Distance

8 hours

Time

1010m

Ascent

2291m

Highest point

6/10

Difficulty

Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)
Jul-Sep

Best season

With ropeway access at either end, this high-level traverse from Asahidake (旭岳, 2291m) to Kurodake (黒岳, 1984m) is one of the most popular hikes in the national park. Indeed, it is known as the Ginza route (after Tokyo’s famous shopping area) for the numbers of people on the trail at weekends and holidays. But don’t let this put you off; there are expansive views as the trail skirts the rim of the dramatic Ohachidaira crater, beautiful alpine flowers in season, snowfields to negotiate and a mountain refuge to visit as you cross the roof of Hokkaido. The route can be done in either direction.

Last updated Apr 2, 2019

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

This hike starts (location) at 1600m from the upper ropeway station at Sugatami on the western flank of Asahidake above Asahidake Onsen spa and finishes at 1510m at the chairlift on Kurodake (here) that connects with the ropeway from the hot spring complex at Sounkyo 層雲峡. Naturally it can also be done the other way round!

General notes

This hike can be done in a day in either direction. This description starts from Asahidake and gets the more exposed section done earlier in the day. Alternatively, you could camp at one of the two designated campsites along the way or stay a night in the Kurodake Ishimuro Hut (details here). If starting from Sounkyo and wishing to return there, the walk around the rim of Ohachidaira from Kurodake is a great day out (7-8hrs) which joins the Hokuchindake and Hokkaidake sections described here.

The main season for summer hiking in Daisetsuzan is July and August; before and after this you need to be prepared and equipped for snow on the ground and/or falling from the sky. The base for this climb is at Asahidake Onsen, a small collection of lodgings and hot springs below the ropeway up the mountain. Accommodation options include a youth hostel and a campsite as well as local Japanese style pensions and hotels. The upper ropeway station at Sugatami has toilets and a small restaurant. There are no safe water sources beyond this point. In high season (June-late October) the ropeway operates every 15 minutes from 06:30 up to 17:30 down (08:00 – 17:00 later in the season – be sure to check the schedule) and costs 1800 yen one way (asahidake.hokkaido.jp). The route finishes by taking the Kurodake chairlift and then the ropeway down to Sounkyo Gorge where there are more hotels and hot springs, a Visitor Centre and bus connections to Asahikawa. The ropeway is operated by Rinyu Kanko (01658 53031, rinyu.co.jp) and runs from 06:00 – 19:00 till August 20, and 06:00 – 18:00 into September (but check to confirm current schedule and prices). Cost is 1100yen one way and 400yen for the chairlift (this finishes a bit earlier than the ropeway so check the time beforehand). If making an overnighter of it then tents can be pitched at the wild and windy Ura-asahi campground behind Asahidake (no facilities, water is obtained from runoff from a snowfield and must be boiled or filtered) and beside the Kurodake Ishimuro Hut. Or you can stay in the hut itself though it may be full in high season.

Hut

Kurodake Refuge (full details here)

The Kurodake Refuge Hut (黒岳石室 | kurodake-ishimuro) is one of the most fully serviced huts in Hokkaido. Hutkeepers are present from the last weekend of June till the last weekend of September, providing bedding, basic drinks, and support to hikers. The hut can get fairly busy during the non-snow hiking season. In the winter, the hut is available for use, but becomes completely buried in snow (bank on around 3 hours to dig down to the entrance if you know where the entrance is).

Route markers

The route is well defined with occasional splashes of yellow paint on rocks and roped areas to keep people from trampling rare alpine plants. Trail junctions are marked by large signposts (in Japanese). From the summit of Asahidake take the trail east heading to Mamiyadake (間宮岳, 2185m, about 1 hour) down past the Ura-asahi designated camping area (no facilities). Early in the season this descent will be over a large snowfield. From Mamiyadake you have a choice of taking either the northern or southern rim of Ohachidaira crater. Views are spectacular from both sides. If going north, take the trail to Nakadake Bunki (中岳分岐) and on to Hokuchin Bunki (北鎮分岐) – from here you can nip up and down Hokuchindake (北鎮岳2244m), Hokkaido’s second highest peak (about 30 mins round trip). Then continue east to the Kurodake Ishimuro Hut (黒岳石室), descending a large snowfield early in the season (the trail should be marked with red dye but take care in mist). The southern variant is slightly shorter and takes you over Hokkaidake (北海岳, 2149m), and includes a river crossing that could mean wet feet after heavy rain or when the snowmelt is in full swing. Allow about 3hrs to get to the Kurodake Ishimuro Hut via the northern route (including climbing Hokuchindake) and about 2hrs if going via Hokkaidake. Both trails meet again just before the hut. From the hut you make the short 20 min climb up Kurodake (黒岳) then descend the switchback path northeast to the chairlift down to Sounkyo (層雲峡, 50mins). Be careful not to miss the last one from here or the ropeway below. There are big signs warning of how much it will cost you (lots!) if they have to run it again just for you!

Route Timing

Total time will be either 8 hours (via Hokuchindake) or 7 hours (via Hokkaidake).

Transport

Public transport:

To Asahidake Onsen: From JR Asahikawa Train Station, there is a bus (Ideyugo いで湯号), operated by the Asahikawa Denki Kido Bus company (tel: 0166 23 3355), that runs to the Asahidake-Onsen spa area. As of November 2018, there were four buses per day there (07:11, 09:41, 13:11, 16:24) and four returning (09:30, 12:00, 15:30, 18:00). The fare is around 1430yen one way, and it takes around 1 hour 40 minutes.

To Sounkyo: From JR Asahikawa Station and JR Kamikawa Station there are buses (signed 層雲峡行き) operated by Dohoku Bus company (0166 23 4161, dohokubus.com). There are seven buses a day in each direction and the journey takes about 2 hrs from Asahikawa, 2100yen one way.

By car: 

Easy road access to both ropeway terminals from the Asahikawa direction. There is ample parking in the large car parks by the ropeway stations, some may charge fees.

Physical maps
  • Asahi-dake 1:25,000 hiking map in English by Markus Hauser (buy on Amazon here). Includes course times.
  • Daisetsuzan 大雪山. Yama to Kogen Map Series No 3. Published by Shobunsha. 1:50,000. Includes course times and trail information (in Japanese). ISBN: 9784398766038
Official Topo Map: Asahidake (旭岳) – map no. NK-54-7-3-3
Official Topo Map 2: Aizankei Onsen (愛山渓温泉) – map no. NK-54-7-2-4
Official Topo Map 3: Sounkyou (層雲峡) – map no. NK-54-7-2-2

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

On a fine summer day with hordes of other walkers around you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about, but this is a dangerous place in bad weather with real risks of hypothermia for poorly equipped hikers. Conditions can change quickly, it is very exposed to the wind and the upper slopes can be much colder than down at the lower ropeway station. Carry appropriate gear. The ridges are broad and open so it is possible to become disoriented in mist. Below Hokuchindake the route descends a snowfield and is marked in season with red dye. On the Hokkaidake variant you cross the river that flows out of Ohachidaira crater. This is normally straightforward but could be difficult in periods of peak snowmelt or after heavy rain. Be aware that bears live throughout the national park. There are usually rangers at the upper ropeway station at Sugatami who can offer advice on trail conditions etc.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Asahidake-Kurodake Traverse

Onsen nearby

Both trailheads have a number of hot springs that take day visitors, including the Shirakabaso (白樺荘) youth hostel in Asahidake Onsen (location | 800yen per person) and Kurodake no Yu (黒岳の湯) in Sounkyo (location | 600yen per person). This place also serves delicious Italian food (pasta and pizza) in the ground floor restaurant.

Extra Resources
  • Mountains of Hokkaido’s write up: Asahi-dake & Kuro-dake
  • Hokkaido Natsuyama Gaido 2, 北海道夏山ガイド 2 表大雪の山々 (Hokkaido Shimbunsha, in Japanese). These guides are updated every few years.

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

These trails are a great introduction to Daisetsuzan, or Nutakukamu-ushuppe in Ainu (this area is also known by the Ainu name Kamuy Mintara, romantically translated as Garden of the Gods).

The last time I came here was by chance – the access to our planned route was closed due to a typhoon so Jeff and I backtracked to Sounkyo and rode the ropeway up to do Hokuchindake. It was early in the season with plenty of snow still around and swirling mist added to the sense of wilderness.

There were no views from the top of Hokuchindake, though it cleared up a bit and rained briefly on the way back to Kurodake. It was still a bit early for the full glory of alpine flowers, but near the hut a Siberian Rubythroat was singing away madly.

After a break at the hut, we climbed up Kurodake in the late afternoon. There was nobody else around so we took the opportunity to investigate the sheer cliffs on the north side of the summit. We then realized the time was getting on, so rushed quickly down to the chairlift. Drifts of slippery snow on the trail slowed us down and we only made it just in time – it stopped running at 17:30 that day.

Then it was down to the onsen at Kurodake no Yu for a good soak, followed by a well-earned plate of delicious pasta in the unassuming looking restaurant on the ground floor. It doesn’t look like that kind of place but is now one of our favourite stops if we are in these parts.

As with each ski touring, cycle touring, and hiking route guide published on hokkaidowilds.org, should you choose to follow the information on this page, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road/track closures. While traveling, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow leave-no-trace procedures. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this information, associated GPS track (GPX, KML and maps), and all information was prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. hokkaidowilds.org, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individuals following the information contained in this post.

hokkaidowilds.orgに掲載されるすべてのスキールート、自転車ツーリングルート、ハイキングルートと同様に、本ページに掲載される情報を利用し行動する場合、必ず自己責任で利用することを条件とします。出発する前に現地の天候や状況、通行止め情報などを確認しましょう。行動中は、公有地/私有地に関係なく必ず現地の利用条件を守るようにし、適切な安全装置や、コンパスや地図などのナビゲーション道具を身に着けてください。いうまでもありませんが、自然に与える人間の影響を少なくし、ゴミの持ち帰りをはじめ環境を傷をつけない(Leave No Trace)ようなアウトドア行動にしましょう。本サイトに掲載される情報はあくまで計画を立てるための一つの情報源に過ぎなく、行為者の先んじて払ってしかるべき正当な注意義務及び努力と合わせて利用することを条件とします。本ページのGPSトラック(GPXとKMLと地図)を含む情報は提供者のできる限り正確な調べにより提供しているものの、その情報の正確性や、提供者の行動判断は、hokkaidowilds.orgは一切の責任を負いかねなく保証できません。また、本ページに掲載される情報を利用することによるいかなる怪我、器物損壊等、その他事件 ・事故等においてhokkaidowilds.orgや本サイトの関係者は一切の責任を負いかねます。

Comments | Queries | Reports

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

See More Like this