Mount Hinadake (雛岳, Hina-dake) 1240 m is one of the smaller sub-peaks of the The Hakkōda Mountains (八甲田山系) in Aomori prefecture (青森県). The Hakkōda range is a large stratovolcanic complex with numerous sub peaks. This makes it ideal for exploring in varied weather conditions as you’ll almost always be able to find something suitable and away from the prevailing wind. Aomori is a windy and snowy place!
Our crew had spent the morning safari-skiing off the top of the Hakkōda ropeway down to our accommodation at the Michinokufukazawa onsen (みちのく深沢温泉). The afternoon ski needed to be more of an straight up & down ski lap so we’d be done in time to make the return drive into Aomori city for hot-chicken, sour gummies and an automated teller machine. Several of the roads around Hakkoda close overnight and we didn’t want to be locked out from being able to drive back to the ryokan.
We were late to the party, of course, and as we arrived there were several vehicles just leaving including a few ‘Y’ plated (US military service person) cars. We ran into several ‘local’ groups of American skiers based at the Misawa Air base (三沢飛行場) in the course of our trip, but, Hakkoda does still remain at least a bit undiscovered and off the usual beaten track for foreign skiers.
The (surprisingly long) lift line at the ropeway had a distinctly Japanese crowd and included plenty of telemark skiers. Don’t let your friends who are uncultured beyond a ski-week-in-Niseko get away with saying that “Japanese don’t ski off-piste”.
Unlike the parking trials and tribulations we tend to face back in Hokkaido, we found a fantastic well cleared parking area just off the road. There were a couple of well packed skin tracks heading off into the forest and we picked the one on lookers right to go in and then returned out the lookers left track.
It was only a short walk before we began climbing quite steeply up the side of the peak. It had been well used that day and so, while there was a great skin track to ease our ascent, we’d be skiing sloppy-seconds on the way back down. The vegetation, once again, consisted of well spaced trees; ideal!
This would be another great spot for easy access and relatively safe storm skiing when the weather kicks in. The NE aspect will be somewhat protected too.
We climbed to about 950m at which point the wide slope started to turn into smaller ridges and gullies. With the light of the day starting to fade with ripped skins and meandered back down. The skiing was reasonable and we’d happily come back again. It’s another 300 or so meters to the peak and that’s probably worth bagging if you’re here in spring conditions.