Gin-zan (銀山, 641m) is a prominent hill in Niki Town, mainly due to the massive radio repeater station at its summit - it is visible from pretty much anywhere in town. Given its location, it gives great views across to Yotei-zan (羊蹄山), the Niseko Range, and Yoichi-dake (余市岳) further afield. It is on the same main ridge as Inaho-mine (稲穂峰, 565m), so if you're looking for a longer day, then consider joining them up. All in all, a great hill for beginners looking to stretch the legs and hone skills.
Last updated Apr 3, 2019
Need to know details
This backcountry ski route starts about 2km southeast of Ginzan JR Station in Niki Town, about 2 hours west of Sapporo City. The trailhead in winter is at the end of the snowclearing, just above Kotokuji Temple (孝徳寺), here.
As mentioned above, Gin-zan is in the same general vicinity as the slightly lower Inaho-mine. If you had to choose between the two, Inaho-mine would probably be higher on the priority list. Inaho-mine has the better slopes for downhill skiing higher up. Or, ski up Gin-zan, do the traverse to Inaho-mine (about 2 hours) and make the descent down via the Inaho-mine slopes. Either way, Gin-zan is a great area for beginners, and the large radio repeater station is a curious-looking goal to aim for. Pack a lunch, dig out a snow-table, and enjoy the views at the summit. The name Gin-zan (銀山) literally means ‘silver mountain’, and comes from the fact that in the past, there were mines that produced gold, silver, copper, and zinc in the area, such as the Rubeshibe Mine (ルベシベ鉱山) and Otomi Mine (大富鉱山).
This route is not marked.
Up | 2hrs
Down | 0.5hrs
About 2hr 10mins from end of snow clearing to summit, and then about 40mins back down.
If you’re willing to walk or ski 2.5km from the station, the most obvious choice for public transport is by rail to Ginzan JR Station (銀山駅, here). For train times, just look up Ginzan Station (Niki Town) on Google Maps and choose the train option. There used to be a local bus service to Ginzan from Yoichi City, but this is no longer in service.
There is no official parking spot. There is usually room for about 2 or 3 cars at the end of the snow clearing (around here), but make sure to park well to the side of the road. Consider digging out some extra space on the side of the road.
Snow and route safety
The gullies on either side of the main ridge are known to be avalanche-prone, and are essentially massive terrain traps. Make conservative decisions when considering descent options.
The closest onsen is the very nice Akaikawa Caldera Onsen (400yen per person, here), about 20 minutes away from the station by car (no public transport options). It is known for its very hot indoor bath (43degC), but the outdoor bath and another newer indoor bath are more humane.
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.
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Route Trip Notes
Gin-zan is next to Inaho-mine, and it is possible to traverse between the two. Gin-zan is a small mountain, but its summit can be seen from anywhere in town due to its large repeater station at the top. From the summit can be seen Daikoku-yama to the north, and Yotei-zan and the Niseko Range to the south, making for good views despite the low altitude. There’s a lot of snow in this area, and Gin-zan is popular among skiers looking to ski its northern slopes, where the powder snow is relatively unaffected by the sun.Translated from the Hokkaido Yukiyama Guide (2015), p. 182.
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