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.