Posted on Mar 2, 2021
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NE
Posted on Mar 2, 2021
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0
NE
4.4km

Distance

3.0 hours

Time

425m

Ascent

985m

Highest point

5.5/10
Difficulty
Snow Icon | Hokkaido Wilds
Feb-Apr

Best season

Karikachi-yama 狩勝山 (985m) sits just west of Karikachi Pass 狩勝峠 in the far north Hidaka range. It has some good skiing potential on its southern and eastern faces when the snowpack is stable, and the views from the peak are quite inspiring. To the south there's the entirety of the Hidaka Range, to the east is the expansive Tokachi plains, and to the north is the Daisetsuzan Range and Furano. As a sub-3 hour return trip, it's a nice quick foray into the wild Hidakas.

We visited this route on Feb 13, 2021

Last updated Apr 2, 2021

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Karikachi-yama is about 3km southwest of Karikachi Pass in the northern Hidaka range in central Hokkaido. This route, approaching the peak from the north from Route 38, starts here about 3.6km before the pass on the western side.

General notes

As a relatively minor peak in the northern Hidakas, Karikachi-yama sees relatively little skier traffic during the winter season. As such, it’s likely visitors will have the peak and slopes to themselves. It’s a nice peak, however, and worth a quick climb if one finds oneself passing over the Karikachi Pass during the later winter months.

Hut
None
Route details

Start from the small snow-cleared cut-out about 3.5km prior to Karikachi Pass on the Minami-furano side of the pass. Cross the road and clamber up the high snow-bank to access the forest. Head due south up the mellow main northern ridge for almost an hour to the 711m point. There’s a slight clearing in the woods along this point of the ridge. From here, it’s a steeper climb up to the summit. At around 300m in distance from the summit, the ridge becomes a rather convoluted mess of cornices and wind-drifted snow. Cognizant of possible cornice drops, weave your way up to the compact summit. If the snowpack is stable, the southern and/or the eastern faces make for fine lapping potential.

Route Timing
Up | 2.5hrs
Down | 0.5hrs

This can be a relatively quick up-and-back route. If lapping any of the slopes, be sure to allow extra time.

Transport

Public transport:

There is no public transport to this route.

By car:

There is room to part two or three cars in a very small snow-cleared area on the northern side of Route 38 at the trailhead.

Physical maps
Official Topo Map: Ochiai (落合) – map no. NK-54-8-6-1

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).

Aspect
The main aspect skiers are exposed to on the descent and/or ascent is North. Other aspects that may also be encountered while following the route outlined on this page include: East. Therefore, keep an eye on the weather forecast a few days ahead of your trip to monitor wind, snow, and temperature. Also, since this route is in the general vicinity of the Furano area, consider looking at the Furano Avalanche Center (on Facebook). They issue sporadic observations throughout the season which may give extra insight into avalanche conditions.

Snow and
route safety

Karikachi-yama’s treeless southern and eastern faces are treeless for a reason – they’re the perfect angle for avalanche. If considering skiing these open slopes, make sure to take appropriate steps to test the stability of the snowpack. In addition to your own on-the-ground observations and tests, the Furano Avalanche Center posts observations from around the region throughout the season. Regardless, always make conservative decisions.

Karikachi-yama Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

C

30

Time ascending

C

3

Technicality

Altitude

B

6

Hazards

B

12

Navigation

C

6

Totals

57/100

GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy).  More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Karikachi-yama
Onsen nearby

If you’re headed east over Karikachi Pass, then the closest onsen is the nice Sahoro Hotel onsen 十勝サホロリゾート (location, 1000yen). It’s a bit on the pricey side, but the small outdoor bath has nice views of the surrounding forest.

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 the Hidaka Range together with a local certified guide, get in touch with Takao Miyashita. He’s a born-and-bred Hokkaido based guide, with IFMGA and JMGA certification. From a young age he cut his teeth on peaks in Hokkaido, including the rugged Hidaka Range. 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

Haidee and I were on our way to a momonga flying squirrel tour in a few days time in Otofuke in the Tokachi plains. So this would be a perfect opportunity to check out a peak that had piqued my interest for a while. Not only because it shared a name with the beautiful Karikachi Pass, but also because it was a relatively short route, close to a main road.

So, we left Sapporo City early in the morning to give us plenty of time on the mountain. We arrived at the trailhead at 9am, just as two skiers were arriving back to the car park. They’d set off bright and early at 6am that morning. “The snow is OK,” one of them said. “We skied the south and eastern faces, and enjoyed it, but it’s a bit crusty in places.”

According to the two skiers, they were the only ones on the mountain, so nothing was too tracked up.

By the time we got away from the car at 9:30am, the day felt like it was warming up considerably.

By the time we’d hiked up through the lower forest to the 711m point, we were down to one layer. With no wind down here, it was all feeling quite like spring weather. From our vantage point on the northern ridge, it was still quite difficult to see where the chaps before us had skied. It all looked quite wooded.

We carried on up. One thing we noticed here was the abundance of moss on the trees. A bit peculiar to us, considering how cold this area must get.

As we climbed, it became clearer to us that there was some decent skiing awaiting, should we feel up to taking advantage of the slopes. Down to the east was a large open area. We’d at least have to skirt the upper portion of it on the descent, as the ascent along the ridge was quite tightly wooded.

The views from about half way up the steeper last-spurt climb to the summit were spectacular. The remnants of the Hidaka Range to the north, then the Daisetsuzan Range even further north than that. The Furano plains a bit to the west of that. As we climbed, more and more of the surrounding landscape came into view.

This is definitely a route to shoot for on a clear-sky day.

The summit was a compact affair, with enough room for a few people to swing skins and skis around. Haidee’s sticky new skins didn’t cooperate with her for a ski-mo style transition, but she got there in the end.

The descent was first a bit of a clattery scrape down the hard-packed summit ridge, and then we found ourselves at the top of the eastern face. The tracks from the chaps ahead of us carried on around to the southern face, but we were a bit pushed for time, as we had to get ourselves to Lake Shikaribetsu in the afternoon. I looked longingly at the eastern face, but we decided not to ski directly down it either, as it would have required digging a pit to test the snowpack, and also a skin back up and out. We settled on skirting along the top of it, and then down a more mellow section of the eastern side of the mountain before cutting northwest across to our skin track.

Once back at the skin track, the way back to the trailhead was just a matter of speeding along the skin track on the flats, and then enjoying the rest of the mellow downhill through the lower forest.

For a sub-3hr backcountry route (we took a leisurely 2hr 50min), this was great fun. An awesome way to break up a long drive from Sapporo to the Tokachi plain!

Comments | Queries | Reports

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

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Karikachi-yama Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

C

30

Time ascending

C

3

Technicality

Altitude

B

6

Hazards

B

12

Navigation

C

6

Totals

57/100

GRADES range from A (very difficult) to D (easy). Hazards include exposure to avalanche and fall risk. More details here. Rating rubric adapted from Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook 北海道雪山ガイド.