Horokanai powder! That’s what we’d come all the way from Sapporo for. However, it just wouldn’t work out that way for us this time around. With one of the driest Februaries on record across Hokkaido, we had to make do with nicely hard-packed spring-like conditions for our trip to a classic Horokanai backcountry destination, Bozu-yama.
We started off the trek up to the peak with glorious, unseasonably warm weather. It took a little bit of wandering around the garbage sorting facility before we found the end of the section and a place to put the skis on.
Once on our way, however, it was a fairly straight forward skin up a broad spur to the main ridge. We’d get a few seasons in one day, with thoroughly spring-like conditions lower down, then squalls of snow showers on the way up, with mercifully clear skies as soon as we made it to the summit.
Along the way, the upper slopes were all but calling out to us to ski them.
At the summit, we had a quick lunch admiring the views of the valley below, with us bathed in warm sunlight. Rick’s keen eyes spotted another dark snow squall approaching from the west, which signaled our quick descent off the peak.
Like clockwork, as we popped out of the woods back to the garbage sorting facility, the skies opened to warm spring sunshine again.
We drove the 5km or so north to the Seiwa Onsen (here), and had a well-deserved soak, and a delicious soba meal at the attached restaurant. Horokanai is famous for its soba, with fields blooming white when in season.
With other plans for the next day, we drove back through Horokanai to our AirBnB to stay the night and get an early start the next morning for some more Horokanai exploring. The owner of the AirBnB was a super laidback recent migrant to Hokkaido from Osaka. “This is my second winter here in Horokanai,” he explained. We could only guess that land prices attracted him here, considering that he was not only not aware that Horokanai was known as a good backcountry skiing area, but had also managed to end up in one of Japan’s coldest locales.