Dairoku-yama Northern Ridge Ski Touring (beta)


Posted on Mar 18, 2020
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Posted on Mar 18, 2020

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Reading time: 5 min


6 hours





Highest point



Snow Icon | Hokkaido Wilds

Best season

Dairoku-yama (大麓山, 1459m) is a remote, lonely peak in deep winter. Not many people will stand on its summit in the snowy season. However, this multi-peaked massif is home to a number of remote slopes, most with very well spaced trees, on multiple aspects. Access from the Ningle Forest Management Hut is either long but technically easy (via the Genshi-ga-hara Marsh pleateau 原始ヶ原), or short but technical via a tricky scramble just downstream from the Fudo-no-taki (不動の滝). Here, we cover the latter - arguably the closest access point to the Dairoku-yama foothills from the hut.

We visited this route on Mar 01, 2020

Route Map

Need to know details


Dairoku-yama sits to the south of Furano-dake and Maefurano-dake, at the southwestern end of the Daisetsuzan Range in central Hokkaido (location). In deep winter, skiers will need to travel from a closed road gate (here) across 6.5km of very gently ascending terrain before getting to the Ningle Forest Management Hut (details, location), and then ascend from there.

General notes

The descent down to the Fudo-no-taki (不動の滝), Nunobe-gawa creek (布部川) crossing and subsequent scramble up to the main ridge is a bit of a gong show on this route. The actual northern ridge has some lovely skiing, and the Fudo-no-taki waterfall is impressive, but the approach definitely verges on Type-2 fun. Hence, this route is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a practical or highly recommended route. It is the result of having a full spare day at the Ningle Forest Management Hut, waiting for the weather to clear for an attempt on the summit of Maefurnao-dake (route overview here). All we knew at the time was that south-facing slopes near the hut were horrid sun-crust nightmares, so we wanted to ski some north-facing slopes below the treeline – it was blowing a gale in the alpine. Before the trip, I’d looked at Yamareco’s heatmap of the area (screenshot here), and it was clear that no one really thinks of trying to access the northern foothills of Dairoku-yama from the main Genshi-ga-hara access trail from the hut. On the screenshot, all the red traces going north from the main valley are headed to Maefurano-dake or Furano-dake.

The main crux of the route is getting from the Fudo-no-taki waterfall (不動の滝) up onto the ridge. The Nunobe-gawa creek (布部川) is in a relatively deep gorge. To be honest, we may have been lucky. Any earlier in the season, we might not have had enough snow to straddle the ledges, shimmy across sketchy snow-bridges, and clamber across gaps.

If attempting this route, please accept that it is well and truly in a beta-stage of development. It requires considerable clambering up small sections of rocky cliff. Nothing involves anything even approaching exposure to a life-threatening fall, but skiers will need to be open-minded, fit, and creative.


Ningle Forest Management Hut (full details here)

The Ningle Forest Management Hut (ニングルの森管理棟) is an immaculate, well built and insulated hut at the southern-most end of the Daisetsuzan mountain range. It sits at the Genshi-ga-hara (原始ヶ原) trailhead. The hut allows easy access to Daisetsuzan’s southern major peak of Maefurano-dake (前富良野岳, 1625m), as well as access to the northern-aspect slopes of Dairoku-zan (大麓山, 1460m) for the more adventurous ski tourers. The hut is only open to the public upon prior request – contact the Furano City council to apply for use, and arrange to pick up the key. In winter, the closest car parking is 7km away – about 2-3 hours walk through deep snow on a snowed-in road.

Route details

Access the Ningle Forest Management Hut as per the details on the Maefurano-dake route overview. From the hut, head up the upper summer hiking trail towards the Genshi-ga-hara plateau. In about 1km, drop down to below the Fudo-no-taki (不動の滝). This is a moderately steep ski through trees for 50m or so, then a very steep (but short) drop down to the creek proper. When we were there in March 2020, there was a makeshift bridge made of large logs straddling the creek just below the waterfall. We easily skinned across this on an ample-wide covering of snow.

From the waterfall, traverse along the far side of the creek downstream for about 150m. Space between the ravine wall and the stream will be tight in places. The crux comes at the end of the 150m, with a scrambly ‘gap’. Brush snow out of the way to find hand-holds to push yourself upwards, and grab onto the saplings on the other side to haul yourself across. We did this with skis still attached to boots. In March 2020, falling here would simply have meant a soft landing in snow, with an easy short 2m re-ascent. Your mileage may differ depending on snow conditions.

Once past the crux, it’s a steep zig-zag ascent on good snow, through a messy wind-fall strewn forest. Clearly the last few seasons’ of typhoons have wrecked havoc on this lower portion of the foothills. Soon enough the forest will transform into slopes with well-spaced old-growth trees. Follow the ridge up to around the 1200m knob. We had flirted with the idea of skiing the eastern side of the knob, but easterly winds had deposited a good amount of fine, dry powder on the easterly face we’d climbed up. Start early in the day on this route, and experienced ski tourers will enjoy selecting lappable slopes appropriate to the current conditions.

After a few laps, the final return is back the way you came. The crux point on the descent is as befuddling as it was on the ascent, but not impossible. Once across the stream near the waterfall, the steep, short climb back up to the summer trail is the final crux of the route. Some in our party opted to bootpack, some managed to cut a steep skin-track. Follow the summer trail back to the hut.

Route Timing
Up | 5hrs
Down | 1.5hrs

Total time on the mountain will depend on how many laps skiers do of the upper slopes, but a simple up and then back jaunt will take about 3 hours from hut to the 1200m knob, and then another 1 hour back down. The creek crossing and the ravine crux problem-solving will likely take time. It’s about 2.5hrs from the road-closed gate to the hut, and another 40 minutes back down from the hut.


Public transport:

This route is not accessible by public transport.

By car: 

There is roadside parking at the road-closed gate around here. Park well to the side of the road, and don’t park too close to the gate, as snow-clearing equipment uses this area to turn around. You may need to spend 15 minutes or so clearing your own parking space off the side of the road.

Physical maps
Official Topo Map: Honko (本幸) – map no. NK-54-7-8-4

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

Snow and route safety

This route is best suited to a party with at least one experienced ski tourer, accustomed to problem-solving in the outdoors – the creek-crossing involves plenty of scrambling. Also note that this is a very remote route. Given the difficult and long access, any foot rescue will be a long time coming – skiers need to be self-reliant, prepared, and experienced with difficult backcountry travel.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Dairoku-yama
Onsen nearby

From the winter trailhead, the closest onsen is Furano La Terre (ふらのラテール, location, 980yen). It’s about 14km (20mins) from the trailhead. There’s indoor baths, a cave bath, outdoor baths – it’s a huge facility. It also has an attached restaurant. If you’re headed further into central Hokkaido, then it would be worth making the extra 20 minutes drive up the mountain to the Tokachi Onsen area. Ryounkaku (凌雲閣, location, 800yen) at the end of the road arguably has one of the most epic outdoor onsen views in Hokkaido. Of course there’s good old Hakuginso (白銀荘, see our post here, location is here, 700yen for a soak). And for the adventurous, there’s the Fukiage Onsen free wild onsen just down the road from Hakuginso (吹上温泉, location, free).

Extra Resources
No extra English resources that we know of. If you know of any, please let us know in the comments.

Guide Options

If you’d like to ski this route and/or explore other areas of Central Hokkaido together with a local certified guide, get in touch with Takao Miyashita. He’s a born-and-bred Hokkaido based guide. From a young age he cut his teeth on peaks around Tokachi-dake, Asahi-dake, Sandan-yama and others. He has multiple 6,000m-plus peak international expeditions under his belt (including a ski descent from 7,400m on Mt. Manaslu, Nepal). He is one of the leading senior figures in the local guiding and outdoor associations here in Hokkaido and Japan. 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

We’d arrived at the hut the previous day (story here). We knew the weather forecast was for very blustery weather today, so we decided we’d try to explore some of the northern side of the stream behind the hut. Jake had been tenkara fishing in the area in summer, so knew that we could at least get down to the stream near the Fudo-no-taki. So after a hearty breakfast cooked on the wood stove at the hut, we headed off in that direction.

It was a quick skin along the summer trail. Leaving our skins on, we slithered down the very steep summer trail to the stream. Jake was ecstatic to see the waterfall in winter, partially frozen over.

The head-scratcher from here was how we were to get from the small ravine up onto the main ridge. At first, we attempted a steep skin and then bootpack up a clear chute on the left, directly after the waterfall. I was confident it could be tackled on skis with a number of precise kickturns. Others were confident it was better tackled as a bootpack. Consensus reigned, and from about 1/5 of the way up, we attached skis to our packs and started bootpacking. The problem was that below a crusty snow layer was groin-deep faceted snow – it wouldn’t compress into any sort of step on each step up. At the bottom of the faceted snow was frozen, rock-hard dirt.

With me in the lead, we made it about 2/5 of the way up before I’d had enough. Hand-holds were running out, and there was no purchase for my feet. We retreated down.

We skirted downstream along the creek, and finally found our way up – a tricky lunge-step across a small gap onto a ledge, and then up onto the face of the slope proper.

Overall, it was a messy, scrambly, fun problem to solve. We were all glad to have it behind us once we were on the slope. After the time spent scratching about on the ravine floor, it felt like we were flying up the slope, one foot in front of the other, cutting a quick skin track through the soft snow. And soft it was. Perfectly dry and soft snow had fallen – this was going to be a joy to ski down. 

No sooner had we got to the first prominent knob along the ridge than we came out of the lee of the wind. It was a howling easterly. We quickly ripped skins and embarked on the first lap of the face we’d skinned up, through the trees. We were over the moon that the snow was good, and the vegetation was not too dense. Classic Hokkaido tree skiing at its best. Jake was in his element, converting the slope into his own terrain park.

We did a long climbing traverse to our uptrack, and followed it back up to the 1200m knob. From there, we high-tailed it back down the ridge, enjoying great tree skiing most of the way down. As we approached the creek, we were increasingly dodging windfall from previous years’ summer typhoons.

Getting down the lunge-step crux was challenging. I went first, and happily resigned myself to falling to the left into a pile of soft snow. The others managed to get across without such uncoordinated outcomes.

The final clamber up the summer trail connecting the waterfall with the summer trail proper was a mess. I managed to get up on skis, combining some tight kickturns with some considerable side-stepping. Hiro on his skis disappeared somewhere further around, and appeared soon after at the top, seemingly having had no troubles getting there. Tim successfully bootpacked his way up. This left poor Jake with a thoroughly scuffed up slope to contend with – he finally dragged himself up, bootpacking, after about 10 minutes of very concerted effort.

From there we all headed back to the hut for another cosy night eating and resting till the next morning, where we made our attempt on Maefurano-dake.

Comments | Queries | Reports

Done this route to Dairoku-yama, or others nearby? Thinking of doing it? Please post any feedback, reports, or queries here. Thanks!

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