Chisenupuri Southeast Face
チセヌプリ | Chise-nupuri
Caution: Chisenupuri SE face is a popular backcountry zone, but requires a good knowledge and understanding of the snowpack – it is particularly avalanche-prone.
We visited this route on Dec 30, 2020
Need to know details
Chisenupuri is situated in the middle of the eastern end of the Niseko Range in southwestern Hokkaido, relatively close to the bustling ski resort of Niseko. This backcountry ski route has skiers climb to the south of the broad eastern face of Chisenupuri, and drop the southeastern aspect.
Along with Nitonupuri and Iwaonupuri, Chisenpuri is one of the most popular backcountry destinations in the Niseko Range. Access, snow quality, and terrain all add up to this area being a great first-stop in winter exploration in the area. This route also has an optional detour via the thermal Koyunuma 小湯沼 Pond – a steaming hot spring pond, suitable for a dip if you’re really keen.
All that said, the southeast face of Chisenupuri is also a good area to hold objectives lightly – skiing the SE face will depend heavily on good confidence in the stability of the snowpack.
The area is also close to a number of incredible natural onsen for apres ski soak.
In this description, we assume skiers will start from the Yusato Gate on Route 66, at the intersection with Route 58 to Goshiki Onsen. It’s also possible to start from the Chisenupuri Parking Lot, ascending the Chisenupuri south route via the public uptrack next to the Chisenupuri catskiing area (see our Chisenupuri South route guide here). From Yusato Gate, follow the snowed-in Route 66, under the now iconic (and heavily stickered) road sign, due west towards the southeast face of Chisenupuri. There are a couple of switchbacks along the way. Cutting corners on the switchbacks realistically has minimal return time-wise. Best to just stick to the road.
Soon after the sharp dogleg bend to the northeast, gain a narrow, heavily wooded spur leading to a compact plateau at around 850m. Carry on across the plateau due north to climb the southern ridge to access the Chisenupuri summit.
On the descent, if snowpack conditions allow it, ski the SE face fall line all the way to the road – a thrilling deep powder drop of around 400m vertical. Re-use your uptrack for laps.
Once you’ve had your fill of the SE face, if energy allows it, we’d heartily recommend descending via the Koyunuma 小湯沼 hotpool (location). On the western side of the pool are smaller pools that are great for soaking the feet in. We’ve also seen people swimming in the pool proper – do so at your own risk. This detour will require donning skins again to climb back out of the pool area, back to the Route 66 road. Note that this Koyunuma hotpool is completely separate from the larger Oyunuma 大湯沼 hotpool (location) further down the hill next to Yukichichibu Onsen.
Timing here assumes just a quick up-and-back trip. Add on a couple of hours if lapping the slope and/or taking a look at the Koyunuma Pond.
There is no public transport to this route. A taxi from central Hirafu to the Route 66 gate (24km) would cost around 7,500 to 8,000yen one way. Note that cellphone reception is limited at the Yusato Gate – Docomo carriers work OK, but others may not.
There is a small area at the end of the snow clearing around here at the Route 66 road closure gate, where four or five cars can fit without having to park on the side of the road along Route 66. If this small area is already full, you may see others parked on the side of the road, hard up against the snowbanks on the left (west) side of Route 66. Technically, this is illegal for a number of reasons – parking within the lane, parking too close to an intersection, etc. It can also effectively reduce Route 66 to one lane, causing traffic headaches. While we haven’t heard of vehicles being towed, please obey any signs posted, and always make as much effort as possible to not obstruct traffic. As backcountry user numbers continue to increase, we hope to see a feasible solution. In the meantime, however, it’s up to users to make good decisions and be careful not to cause inconvenience to others.
The southeast face of Chisenupuri is classic avalanche terrain. The upper half of the descent route is steep, well above the treeline, and is generally in the lee of the prevailing NW storm cycles. As such, the snow can be very good, but this aspect can be heavily wind-loaded at times. Take extreme caution if choosing to ski that upper alpine portion. Also, this can be a very busy backcountry area; be aware of backcountry users above and below you at all times. By following the recommended routes you’ll have good spatial separation between skiing and skinning.
Chisenupuri Southeast Face Difficulty Rating
The closest onsen to the trailhead is Yukichichibu Onsen 雪秩父温泉 (location, 700yen, noon till 7pm, closed Tuesdays), about 1.5km down Route 66 on the way back to Hirafu. It’s a natural onsen with a large outdoor bath area. Yukichichibu also has an attached restaurant (11am till 2pm). Yukichichibu is a very sulphurous onsen and so you do tend to stink for a bit afterwards. Goshiki Onsen 五色温泉 (location, 800yen, 10am till 7pm) further up the road on Route 58 is a gorgeously rustic natural onsen. It is a must visit onsen for the region, with 100% pure hot spring water, flowing into outdoor baths surrounded by meters of snow.
If you’d like to ski this route and/or explore other Niseko areas together with a local certified guide, get in touch with Jun Horie. He’s a Niseko-resident guide with seven years experience advanced-level ski instructing in Austria (he speaks German as well as English and Japanese). He has also guided in New Zealand and has previously led guiding operations in Hokkaido before going independent. See a full list of English-speaking Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA) guides on the HMGA website here.
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.
Comments | Queries | Reports
Done this route to Chisenupuri, or others nearby? Thinking of doing it? Please post any feedback, reports, or queries here. Thanks!