Posted on Jan 24, 2016
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NW
Posted on Jan 24, 2016
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NW
6km

Distance

4 hours

Time

770m

Ascent

1710m

Highest point

7/10
Difficulty
Snow Icon | Hokkaido Wilds
Jan-May

Best season

Mt. Maetokachi (前十勝岳, 1,790m) is another classic staple for backcountry skiing in the Tokachi Ranges. Its broad, plank-like north-western face is a veritable playground of wide gullies and snow-fields. Here, I outline the classic Kabawara Ridge route, which is the most-traveled route on the mountain for backcountry skiing. Like Mt. Sandan, the route is accessed from the hopelessly amazing Hakuginso Lodge - a mountain lodge boasting to be the "mecca of powder" with everything you could possibly want: onsen hotsprings, a large communal kitchen, a large basement drying room, friendly staff, and only 2,750yen a night.

Last updated Apr 2, 2021

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Tokachi mountain range, central Hokkaido. About 3 hours drive east from Sapporo, 5hrs by train and bus. Route starts here, at Hakuginso Lodge.

General notes

The broad northwest facing face of Mt. Maetokachi is a veritible playground in the winter. It has endless options for scoping out nice powder staches, with multiple gullies running down the slope. This route climbs along the Kabawara Ridge, through the scorched stumps of a has-been forest. At the top of the ridge, it is up to the skier as to how they get down. Take the ridge as a safest-of-the-lot option. Head further to the skiers’s right to find some of the more protected gullies.

Hut
Hakuginso Lodge (full details here)

Hakuginso Lodge (吹上温泉保養センター白銀荘, 1,020m) is a beautiful lodge perfectly situated for access to a number of excellent ski touring and hiking routes in the Tokachi region of the Daisetsu National Park. As a base for backcountry ski touring, it is second to none. Accessible by car, and already at just over 1,000m in altitude, the lodge has some of the driest powder snow in Hokkaido on its doorstep. The onsen at the lodge and just down the road are also second to none. All this for a paltry 3,100yen (3,250yen in the winter) a night.

Route details

There are no route markers.

Route Timing
Up | 3hrs
Down | 1hrs

About 3 hours from Hakuginso Lodge to the 1,790m summit. There’s not much getting in your way on the way down, so it’s a quick 1 hour back to the lodge from the summit.

Transport

Public transport:

From JR Kami-Furano Train Station, there is a bus, run by the Kami-Furano Town Bus company, that runs to the Hakuginso Lodge. You’ll want to catch the tokachidake-onsen-yuki (十勝岳温泉行き) bus from the train station and get off at the Hakuginso bus stop (白銀荘). As of March 2017, there were three buses per day going to the lodge (08:52, 12;49, 16:31) and three returning (10:01, 13:51, 17:40). The fare is around 500yen one way, and it takes around 30 minutes.

By car:

There’s plenty of parking at the Hakuginso Lodge (here).

Physical maps
Official Topo Map: Shirogane Onsen (白金温泉) – map no. NK-54-7-8-1

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 Northwest. 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

As mentioned above, the entire face of Mt. Maetokachi is somewhat of a playground. Just watch out for exposed rocks on the northern end of the face and near the ferrules. The altitudes in these areas are much higher than the snowy playgrounds elsewhere in Hokkaido – be extra respectful of mother nature here.

Maetokachi Kabawara Ridge Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

B

35

Time ascending

C

3

Technicality

Altitude

A

10

Hazards

B

12

Navigation

B

12

Totals

72/100

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 Maetokachi-dake
Onsen nearby

The Hakuginso Lodge is an onsen – a very nice one at that. They charge 600yen for day visitors. You can stay overnight for just under 3,000yen (see details here). 10 minutes walk down the road from the lodge is the natural, free, mixed-gender Fukiage Onsen (location). The Ryounkaku Onsen (location – 600yen per person – accessible by same bus that gets you to Hakuginso Lodge) has an incredible view, and they also offer lunch.

Extra Resources

Guide Options

If you’d like to ski this route and/or explore other areas of Central Hokkaido together with a local certified guide, get in touch with Takao Miyashita. He’s a born-and-bred Hokkaido based guide. From a young age he cut his teeth on peaks around Tokachi-dake, Asahi-dake, Sandan-yama and others. 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

Photo Gallery

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

Route blurb from the Hokkaido Yukiyama Guide (2015), p. 372 (translated by Hokkaido Wilds)

Mt. Maetokachi is the advanced guard in front of Mt. Tokachi. It boasts a beautiful triangular shape when viewed from Hakuginso Lodge, and the ferules which rise from the surrounding craters give it another level of impressiveness. Overnight, deep snow can transform into exposed rock, so it doesn’t have the most predictable snow conditions. In general, mid-February and later is the best time to visit. Visual guides up the mountain such as trees are non-existent here, so good clear weather is the key to enjoying it. Mt. Tokachi is an active volcano, so make sure to check activity reports on the Meterological Department website or at Hakuginso Lodge.

This route report is a continuation of sorts from our trip up Mt. Sandan (here). Along with the boys from France, we had skirted across a gully from Mt. Sandan’s northwest face to Mt. Maetokachi’s northwest face.

The skin up Mt. Maetokachi started through spooky scarred forest. But soon enough we found ourselves once again dodging the dreaded low-lying pines.

In the end, we only made around an hour and a half of progress up Mt. Maetokachi before making the call to head down for the day. The peak was clearly in dense cloud, we’d already climbed in total for almost five hours, and the descent was not looking promising with the low pines. We did, however, take the time to scout the area out for terrain that would allow for a more enjoyable downhill ski run. The answer came in a beautiful wide gully, full with waist-deep powder. It was magic.

As if as icing on the cake, our final few minutes of descent were punctuated by a clear view over the Furano plains. Up till this point in the day they had been obscured by clouds. Smiles and more smiles.

The day was finished off with a soak in the free Fukiage Onsen (here). This wild onsen is just 10 minutes walk from the Hakuginso lodge, and is a great way to soothe the muscles after a long day. Just perfect.

Comments | Queries | Reports

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

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Maetokachi Kabawara Ridge Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

B

35

Time ascending

C

3

Technicality

Altitude

A

10

Hazards

B

12

Navigation

B

12

Totals

72/100

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.