Iwaonupuri (Goshiki Hot Springs) Backcountry Skiing

イワオヌプリ | Iwaw-nupuri

Posted on Dec 25, 2016
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Posted on Dec 25, 2016

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3 hours





Highest point



Snow Icon | Hokkaido Wilds

Best season

Mt. Iwaonupuri (イワオヌプリ, 1,116m – also marked as Mt. Io, 硫黄山) – the smaller sister to Niseko’s Mt. Annupuri, sits to the northwest of the bustling ski slopes of Hirafu. It is a long circular drive to get there though, so it is a great way to get away from the madding crowds. Bring a towel, because you’d be mad to miss a soak in the Goshiki Onsen, just a few meters down the road from the carpark.

Last updated Jul 20, 2019

Route Map

Need to know details


When backcountry skiers in Niseko say they were skiing “around Goshiki”, this is the general area they’re usually referring to. It is to the northwest of Mt. Annupuri, the peak towering above the Niseko resort. The route starts and finishes at the end of the snow clearing on Route 58 (here), just up from the Goshiki Onsen buildings.

General notes

For its ease of access and relative wealth of options, this area around Goshiki Onsen is a popular spot for backcountry skiing. Access by car is a solid 30 to 40 minute drive from Hirafu.



Route details

This route is not marked.

Route Timing
Up | 1.5hrs
Down | 1hrs


Public transport:

There is no public transport in winter to the start of the route.

By car: 

The carpark just up from Goshiki Onsen is here: https://goo.gl/maps/HJii1Py1Pa22

Physical maps
Official Topo Map: Annupuri (アンヌプリ) – map no. NK-54-20-7-2

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

As per the Hokkaido Yukiyama Guide(p.227), the large southeast bowl and the eastern ridge is prone to avalanches in unstable conditions (see POIs on map above).

  • Notify the police of your backcountry plans online using Compass – instructions here.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Iwaonupuri
Onsen nearby

Goshiki Onsen (here) is highly recommended.

Extra Resources

See the write-up (in Japanese) on p. 226 of the Yuki-yama Guide (ISBN: 978-4894538047).

Guide Options

If you’d like to ski this route and/or explore other Niseko areas together with a local certified guide, get in touch with Jun Horie. He’s a Niseko-resident guide with seven years experience advanced-level ski instructing in Austria (he speaks German as well as English and Japanese). He has also guided in New Zealand and has previously led guiding operations in Hokkaido before going independent.

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

This would turn out to be our second climb for the day, having previously hiked up the old Chisenupuri Ski Area earlier in the morning (report here). With that as a warm-up, we made the most of a bluebird day to explore a little bit of Mt. Iwaonupuri, behind Goshiki Onsen.

The route is fairly easy, earning a ‘beginner’ rank in the Hokkaido Yuki-yama Guidebook (ISBN: 978-4894538047). It starts at the end of the snow-cleared section of Route 66, and starts off flat for a few hundred meters before cutting to the northwest just on the Kutchan Town border (marked with road signs). From there, the route follows the town border (marked on maps) along the western ridge of a large bowl on the southern slopes of the still-active volcano that is Mt. Iwaonupuri. The lower 150m or so of the ridge is a bit of a labyrinth of thin trees, but soon opens up.

Further up the ridge, the bowl to the east (particularly the western side), is prime avalanche terrain, so check conditions before venturing into that area.
According to the Yukiyama Guidebook (ISBN: 978-4894538047), the ridge can also be very wind-swept and icy, so take a wide berth westwards from around the 900m altitude mark towards the summer track if the going is too icy.

This still being Haidee’s first time on skins in the backcountry, we opted not to go all the way to the top of Iwaonupuri, only making it to around the 1,000m mark before heading back down (our GPS trace here). Josh, with his snowboard, hiked up a little further before getting in some very nice lines with a picture-perfect Hokkaido backdrop.

As with each ski touring, cycle touring, and hiking route guide published on hokkaidowilds.org, should you choose to follow the information on this page, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road/track closures. While traveling, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow leave-no-trace procedures. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this information, associated GPS track (GPX, KML and maps), and all information was prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. hokkaidowilds.org, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individuals following the information contained in this post.

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Comments | Queries | Reports

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

5 thoughts on “Iwaonupuri (Goshiki Hot Springs) Backcountry Skiing”

  1. Thanks for this great resource! I have ski toured and skied in this area just up the road/trail from Goshiki Onsen a few times, both on the backside of Niseko Annupuri and on Iwaonupuri. Is it possible to snow camp in this area? My vision is to ski out of Gate at 6 at Moiwa Resort and ski over to Goshi Onsen (which I have done a couple of times) and then skin along the valley following the general route of Road #58 and camp somewhere along that route and do some skiing in the valley up from Goshiki Onsen for a day or two. (The area around the first hairpin turn as you take Road #58 looks flatter and less likely to be impacted by avalanches.) I am also thinking of then continuing to skin along the route of Road #58 all the way to Kutchan. I will be with a few buddies and we are all experienced backcountry skiers and mountaineers, so I am not worried about gear or weather, but rather permissions/permits. Thanks for any insights on this!

    1. Cheers for the kind words Dave. Sounds like an awesome trip idea! No problems at all with camping in winter. Technically, by law, to erect a structure (including a tent) anywhere in Japan you need permission from the land owner. The Niseko Range is part of the Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru Kaigan Quasi-national Park, so in this case you’d need permission from the the Hokkaido Government (ref: http://www.pref.hokkaido.lg.jp/ks/skn/kouenkisei2807.pdf). But so long as you practice common-sense leave-no-trace camping principles, then you’ll be fine. We’ve done plenty of camping trips in winter here (including in a national park). As an aside, note that this rule about erecting structures (including a tent) doesn’t apply to a snow cave. But really, don’t sweat it – please let us know here how your camping trip goes!

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