Yoichi-dake Dayhike

余市岳

Posted on May 26, 2020
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Posted on May 26, 2020

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Reading time: 3 min

16.6km

Distance

7hrs

Time

1007m

Ascent

1488m

Highest point

5/10

Difficulty

Best season icon (Hokkaido Wilds)
June-Nov

Best season

At 1488m, Yoichi-dake 余市岳 is the highest mountain in the vicinity of Sapporo. Its bulky whaleback summit ridge catches a lot of snow in winter and the international ski resort of Kiroro lies on its northern slopes. In summer, though, it is much quieter and you can walk up past the dormant lifts onto a rugged mountain trail that takes you up to the ridge and along through sasa, shrubby birch and stunted pines to the surprisingly flat summit. On a clear day the views are extensive, from Yotei-zan to the coast and the distant mountains of central Hokkaido.

We visited this route on Nov 18, 2018

Last updated Jun 12, 2020

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Yoichi-dake is about 30km west of Sapporo, south of Otaru City. The hike starts from the Sheraton Hokkaido Kiroro Resort キロロリゾート ski complex at 560m elevation, here.

General notes

There are a couple of theories surrounding the Ainu origins of the mountain’s name – yuochi meaning ‘many hot springs’ or iochi, ‘place of many snakes’ (Hokkaido Shimbunsha, 2010, p.96). The only facilities at the trailhead are inside the ski resort complex, or at the large hotel a kilometer down the road. It is probably wise not to rely on any of the shops being open and take all necessary supplies.

The summer hiking season is from June into November.

Thanks to Aki Sano for the images of the signs and the claw marks.

Route Timing
Up | 4hrs
Down | 3hrs
Route

The route is well defined throughout with signposts at trail junctions. The first section of the route is nearly 4km up a gated access road to the right of the ski complex as you face uphill. Follow the road, which turns into a gravel track, for an hour until it crosses an open ski slope and locate the large sign for the climbing trailhead 余市岳登山道入口 in trees under the lift on the other side. The path gets rough for a while as it follows, then crosses, a stream. It may be difficult to keep your feet dry if water levels are high. From there a better trail goes steeply up through forest onto the sasa (dwarf bamboo) covered ridge in about an hour and a half to a junction where the trail from the top gondola station comes in from the left. Turn right (southwest) for the summit 余市岳山頂 and drop down a short way into a col, passing another junction where a path comes up from the southeast. Climb up the slope onto the long open summit ridge and go past a cairn and a small statue of Kannon to the summit marker in another hour or so. Return the same way.

Transport

Public transport:

There is no access to the trailhead by public transport.

By car: 

Take Route 393 south from Otaru and turn off to Kiroro Resort キロロリゾート. The trailhead is at the ski resort complex where there is a large car park (here). The route starts to the right of the buildings as you face the slopes.

Hut(s)

None

Physical maps

Yama to Kogen Chizu 山と高原地図, No.2 Niseko Yoteizan ニセコ・羊蹄山. Published by Shobunsha 昭文社. 1:50000 hiking map in Japanese with marked routes and course times (the Sapporo region hills are at 1:85000).

GSI Topo Map: Yoichi-dake (余市岳) – map no. NK-54-14-14-4

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

Despite the resort close by, this is a high and wild mountain and can be 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 trailhead. Carry appropriate gear. The stream crossing could be tricky after heavy rain. Like all high mountain areas in Hokkaido this is bear country.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Yoichi-dake

Onsen nearby

The closest onsen is the upmarket Shinrin no Yu (森林の湯, location, 1200 yen) by the large resort hotel about a km before the ski complex. If heading back to Sapporo there are more local options at Asarigawa Onsen 朝里川温泉 east of Otaru, such as the cheap and cheerful Hotel Musashitei (ホテル武蔵亭, location, 600yen).

Extra Resources

In Japanese: Hokkaido Natsuyama Gaido 1, 北海道夏山ガイド 1 道央の山々 (Hokkaido Shimbunsha). 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 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

Arriving at the car park below the ski slopes one Sunday morning in October, we could see that the gondola was running to allow people easy access to the autumn colours on the mountainside above. Naturally, being made of sterner stuff we ignored the temptation and headed up the forest road to where the proper trail left the ski slopes behind. A curious fox observed us as we took a break. Up on the ridge we encountered the first snow of the year, slippery among the rocks and tree roots on the path. On the summit plateau the wind was bitingly cold so despite the views we didn’t linger too long before heading down.

On our last visit it was even colder. The first snows of winter had arrived though we could still make out the line of the path easily enough through the trees. Once out of the forest the snow was deeper and unconsolidated, lying loose over the sasa, leading us to break through frustratingly to our waists every other step. We had left our snowshoes in the car as there was no snow at the trailhead (not the first time I’ve made that mistake) but up here the snow was so loose over the undergrowth they probably wouldn’t have made much difference. After struggling up to the col we were greeted by a viciously cold wind so called it a day and turned around. We felt that we had well deserved our onsen and ramen nonetheless.

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Yoichi-dake Dayhike Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

A

40

Time ascending

B

6

Technicality

Altitude

A

10

Hazards

D

Navigation

D

Totals

56/100

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.