A mid-week ski tour. Why not take the day off, and head to one of Sapporo City’s closest backcountry locations. This route had been on Rick’s radar for a while too. I was easily persuaded.
This backcountry ski route is apparently well known in Sapporo – according to the section in the guidebook above, it has been known as a good place to ski for almost 100 years. Add to that the clear-cut sections under the powerlines, and you’ve got a recipe for a seriously good fun location.
The route starts at the boarded-up shrine, where there is room for around 10 cars to park. It follows a stream up to the powerlines, and crosses a snowbridge just under the last set of powerlines, before the route starts climbing steeply towards Mt. Teine. Directly after the snowbridge, the route climbs steeply to the 526m point, such that a number of steep kick-turns will be needed.
For the first hour of climbing, we could hear the muffled announcements from the Teine Ski Field, on the opposite side of the hills to the north of the route.
Just as the imposing metal pylons are getting in the way of a nice skin in the outdoors, the route cuts off to the north, to climb up on the ridge just north of the route, at around 575m. This route is marked in places with pink ribbon. It would be possible to traverse along the clearcut area under the powerlines – the ‘old powerline’ downhill route takes this course – but it is much more pleasant in the forest.
The route follows the ridge all the way to the 910m mark, which is essentially the end of the strenuous climbing. From there, it is a flat-ish approach to the summit of Mt. Mayoizawa, following the now nondescript ridge around to the north and then west to the summit.
Due to a combination of a late start (we didn’t start climbing until around 9:30am), and low visibility, we opted not to head on to the summit on this trip. The flat area towards the summit is an easy place to get disoriented, to best to head down except in the best conditions.
The downhill portion of the trip offers two choices – the Old Powerline Route and the New Powerline Route. The Old Powerline Route is steeper, and has more variation in the terrain. It follows the main powerlines that the upward route follows. The New Powerline Route is described as a more gentle slope, suitable for beginners. It follows a set of powerlines further to the south of the upwards route, and requires some traversing to get to the top of the clearcut section. While the Mt. Mayoizawa route in general is not known for avalanches, a lot of snow had dropped that morning, so we decided to take the New Route down (route here).
Overall, we felt that the Old Route would have been more fun. The New Route requires some traversing half way through (to rejoin the Old Route), and at the top. For us, this included some upwards sidestepping at times, which was not fun. The guidebook also indicates an option to carry on all the way down to the Kotoni-Hassamu River. This is the river that the route follows at the very beginning. We didn’t head down that way, so can’t comment on the existence of a suitable snowbridge.
The snow on the way down was silky smooth, light and dry. And the steeper sections of the lower part of the Old Route were fantastic fun.