Posted on Mar 6, 2020
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Posted on Mar 6, 2020

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Reading time: 2 min
8.7km

Distance

4.5 hours

Time

664m

Ascent

1322m

Highest point

5/10

Difficulty

Snow Icon | Hokkaido Wilds
Apr-May

Best season

Horohoro-yama ホロホロ山 (1322m) is the twin of Tokushunbetsu-yama 徳舜瞥山 (1309m), connected via a high level ridge. It’s not the most popular of ski objectives as although the easiest access route starts from the high point on Prefectural Route 86, this only reopens in the final week of April. Moreover, it is difficult to recommend this route for the skiing given the gentle gradient and late spring conditions. It’s more of a nice spring walk on skis (or snowshoes) for those who like exploring. Having said that, the final narrow ridge is fun and the amazing summit views still make it a good day out in fine weather.

We visited this route on May 01, 2016

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Horohoro-yama lies southwest of Lake Shikotsu and inland from the town of Shiraoi on the Pacific coast halfway between the cities of Muroran and Tomakomai, a little under a two-hour drive from Sapporo. This route starts from the Horohoro-yama Pass parking area, here.

General notes

Prefectural Route 86 between Date City 伊達市 and Shiraoi Town白老町 is closed over winter and usually reopens in the last week of April.

Hut

None

Route details

There are no official route markers. Ascend the slope behind the car park (elevation 620m) for a short distance then turn south on a gentle slope. At about 700m there is a steep drop to the skier’s left (east), and at 800m a short steep step, the only steep section on the whole route. From here continue up the broad gentle slope through widely spaced trees to a small peak at 1210m. Follow the ridge round to where it narrows at about 1300m. Leave your skis here for the final few hundred meters walk along the airy ridge to the summit. The return route is the same as the ascent.

Route Timing
Up | 3hrs
Down | 1.5hrs

Transport

Public transport:

This route is not accessible by public transport.

By car: 

The route starts at 620m, here, from the high point of Prefectural Route 86 that connects Date and Shiraoi. There is a car park at the Shiraoi end of the tunnel at Horohoro Pass ホロホロ峠.

Physical maps
Official Topo Map: Tokushunbetsu-yama (徳舜瞥山) – map no. NK-54-15-13-1

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

Most of the route is on a broad ridge with few features and without good navigation skills it would be easy to become disorientated in bad visibility. The final ridge is narrow with a steep drop to the east and could be awkward in difficult snow conditions. On the descent be sure to check your position to avoid straying off route. Below the steep step trend slightly right to avoid overshooting the car park but mind the steep drop to the east.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Horohoro-yama
Onsen nearby

Kitayuzawa onsen 北湯沢温泉 is just down Route 453 towards Date and has various options including the excellent Horohoroso (ホロホロ荘, location, 850yen), one of our favourite onsen in the area.

Extra Resources

In Japanese: Hokkaido Yukiyama Gaido, 北海道雪山ガイド (Hokkaido Shimbunsha), p.210. The locals’ backcountry bible. This guide is updated every few years.

Guide Options

If you’s like to ski this route and/or explore other hills south of Sapporo together with a local certified guide, get in touch with either Wataru Nara or Takao Miyashita. They’re both born-and-bred Sapporo-based guides. They both cut their teeth on peaks including those around Sapporo, have taken part in major international expeditions, and are senior figures in the local guiding and outdoor associations here in Hokkaido.

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

Route blurb from the Hokkaido Yukiyama Guide (2015), p. 210 (translated by Hokkaido Wilds)

During winter Prefectural Route 86 connecting Shiraoi Town with Otaki District of Date City is closed. In a normal year the gate is opened around the 25th of April, and the snow climbing season lasts for around two weeks after that. From Horohoro Pass there are no steep slopes except for one place. By skis or on foot, you can stand on the summit in about three and a half hours. The mountain is superbly situated, with views behind you to Lake Shikotsu and from the summit west to Lake Toya. And happily it’s easy to climb since given the season there is no need to break trail.

It was May Day, and the snow was getting decidedly thin in the hills around Sapporo. There wasn’t much at the car park by the tunnel either, and we did briefly wonder if we were wasting our time. But it was a beautiful sunny day and after linking patches of snow through the sasa dwarf bamboo we came out onto the broad ridge, which still had plenty of snow cover. From here it was a very pleasant skin up through trees and on to more open terrain with beautiful views all around.

We left our skis at the start of the final narrow ridge. Jeff strode off confidently along the first few meters then promptly fell into a waist deep hole between the haimatsu dwarf pines. After he clambered out awkwardly we continued on, watching our footing a bit more carefully now. The snow was soft and there was no cornice, so no danger of slipping off the ridge itself. Soon we were enjoying the panorama from the summit – Lake Toya in one direction and Lake Shikotsu the other, with Yoteizan standing proudly to the northwest. Closer still the white pyramid of Tokushunbetsu-yama stood sentinel at the end of the connecting ridge, and we could make out three snowshoers on the saddle below.

Skiing down, however, was a definite anticlimax. The snow was soft, slushy and slow. With little gradient to aid progress it was even difficult to get turns in most of the way down. Near the bottom the sasa joined in the fun by grabbing at our skis and tipping us over. The final stretch to the car park involved a couple of hundred meters of fighting our way through tangled thickets of the dreaded stuff. Nevertheless, enjoying our post-exertion soak in the steaming outside bath at Horohoroso onsen, we agreed that despite the rubbish skiing it had definitely been worth it for the high country atmosphere and wonderful views.

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Comments | Queries | Reports

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