Mt. Maetokachi Taisho Crater and Tokachi-dake Hut

Posted on Feb 18, 2018
50 0

Posted on Feb 18, 2018
50 0
Reading time: 5 min
6.5km

Distance

4.5 hours

Time

578m

Ascent

1650m

Highest point

7.5/10

Difficulty

Snow Icon | Hokkaido Wilds
Dec-May

Best season

Mt. Maetokachi (前十勝岳, 1,790m) can be approached from a few different angles. The classic, easily navigable route heads up the Kabawara Ridge (route guide here), but that can sometimes be buffeted by high winds (as on this trip). If the weather is otherwise clear with good visibility, then it might be worth hopping from one sheltered rocky outcrop to another, and taking some time out of the wind at the very basic Tokachi Emergency Shelter Hut. From the shelter it is possible to access a nice downhill run in a bowl that runs all the way from the very active Taisho Crater (大正火口) fumeroles back to the hut. Featured image above by Rick Siddle.

Last updated Oct 24, 2018

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 start location: https://goo.gl/maps/ZEG931cYCDC2. The route is within the Daisetsuzan National Park (PDF map).

General notes

As mentioned above in the intro, Mt. Maetokachi has an expansive northwestern face, with many options for skiing. The route here cuts across the base of Mt. Maetokachi and goes via the Tokachidake Emergency Shelter Hut, joining up with an official Mt. Tokachi (十勝岳, 2,077m) trail. It is not a particularly popular route because of the lengthy traverse to the hut – in less windy conditions the route up the Kabawara Ridge is a much more direct approach to good skiing. But in windy but good visibility conditions, this Taisho Crater route can offer some good alternative options. There were two ski lifts in this area until the eruption of 1989, after which the ski area was closed.

Hut

Mt. Tokachi Emergency Shelter (full details here)

The Mt. Maetokachi Emergency Shelter Hut (十勝岳避難小屋, 1,300m) is a relatively new hut, built in 2008. It is a very basic shelter, however, built to eruption-standards – at least it looks like it is; it is a solid steel-beamed structure, with a very basic interior. There’s no heating or water at the hut, so it is only really suited for basic overnight stays.

Route markers

There are no route markers.

Route Timing

Up | 2.5hrs
Down | 1hrs

About 1.5 hours from Hakuginso Lodge to Mt. Tokachi Emergency Shelter Hut, then another 1 hour to the Taisho Crater. Just over an hour back to Hakuginso Lodge.

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 is ample parking in the Hakuginso Lodge car park (location).

Physical maps

Official Topo Map: Tokachidake (十勝岳) – map no. NK-54-7-8-2
Official Topo Map 2: 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).

Snow and route safety

Once you’re out of the woods surrounding the Hakuginso Lodge, the traverse to the Tokachidake Emergency Shelter Hut is quite featureless – it would be easy to get disoriented in low visibility conditions.

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

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Mt. Maetokachi Taisho Crater

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

Photo Gallery

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Route Trip Notes

After a jaunt up Mt. Furano the day before, and a relaxing night at Hakuginso Lodge, we were all ready to do the route up Mt. Sandan this morning. Looking at Mt. Sandan from the lodge’s carpark, however, revealed massive trails of snow being ripped off the face of the mountain. Mt. Maetokachi’s Kabawara Ridge didn’t look much better. The eastern reaches of Mt. Maetokachi’s northwestern face, however, looked less like a gale-force mess, so we decided last-minute to head in that direction in search of a more sheltered skin up the mountain. It ended up being a fantastic choice – the emergency hut was a lovely respite, and the bowl above the hut, despite some icy patches, was a blast coming down.

The day started out, however, with a 6:00am wakeup and quick breakfast in the Hakuginso Lodge kitchen. It had been a full house the night before, so everyone was vying for table space.Mt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanThe outside thermometer was showing -15°C at 7:30am, and we were all feeling the cold as we organized ourselves outside. The sunny blue skies were a great morale boost, but didn’t seem to do much to offset the frigid breeze blowing.

At 8:15am we set off from the lodge into the woods to the east of the lodge.Mt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanAs we crested the small ridge just after exiting the woods, I spotted the Tokachidake Hut. Between here and there were small rocky outcrops along the way which would give short respites from the wind, so I decided we’d make a beeline for the hut and assess our options from there.

The weather forecast was for clear skies but strong winds all day in the area, so we were counting ourselves fortunate to even be able to be on the mountain at all. And the views were glorious.Mt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanFor the most part, the snow was firm under foot all the way to the hut. I’d always wanted to check out the Tokachidake Hut, so I was happy to see that after shoveling the snow away from the door, it was unlocked and open for use.Mt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanThere was some discussion about how there used to be a ski lift up to the upper bowls under the Taisho Crater. Later I’d learn that there used to be two lifts up to around where the hut is situated today, as part of the National Tokachidake Ski Area. This ski area was closed after the 1989 eruption, and lifts removed in 1999 (source).

From the hut, we carried on up towards the Taisho Crater area well to the east of the actual summit of Mt. Maetokachi.Mt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi Taisho crater ski tour

Mt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanThe original plan from the hut was zig zag up the wide gully directly west of the large bowl above the hut, but as we got higher, hard, icy patches of snow got in our way. Not everyone was comfortable on those patches, so we traversed around to the bowl where the snow was softer.

Going one by one, we made long climbing traverses up the bowl, slowly but surely gaining altitude.Mt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanThe two snowboarders in our party that were on snowshoes – Saoka and Geraldine – had the upper hand here. They were able to just stomp their way up the less risky, rocky ridges.Mt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanWe all converged on a small flat spot at the top of the bowl. At this stage, most in the party were ready to head back down to the hut. Alan and Emma would later remark that “we get icy conditions like this in Scotland all the time, but never as cold as this!”

Slightly further up, the Taisho Crater was billowing its 300°C steam, staining the ice and snow with yellow sulfur.Mt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanAfter sorting out skis, skins, and splitboards, we took turns to ski down the bowl one by one. Alan took the lead, and showed us how it’s done.Mt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski touring (Hokkaido, Japan)

Once we were all safely back at the hut, it was just a matter of racing back down our skin tracks to the lodge, trying hard not to get too distracted by the ridiculous views.Mt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanWe arrived back at the lodge at just after noon, and made a quick turnaround because we wanted to get to Furano City to have lunch at a curry restaurant – Yuiga Doxon – recommended by both Saoka and Alex. We managed to get to the restaurant at around 1pm, and it was well worth the drive. Amazing home-made sausages on a unique curry rice, and as many free refills of curry sauce as you can handle.Mt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, JapanMt. Maetokachi ski tour (Hut route), Hokkaido, Japan[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/12″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”10/12″][vc_column_text]Thus concluded a very enjoyable backcountry ski touring weekend in the Tokachi Range. Alan and Emma thanked us all for welcoming them into the fold, despite being complete strangers. I just reminded them that my intentions were entirely selfish – now I know who to call if I ever find myself in Scotland in the winter :-)

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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