Muine-yama to Kimobetsu-dake Traverse Ski Tour

無意根山~喜茂別岳

Posted on Jan 8, 2020
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Posted on Jan 8, 2020

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Reading time: 2 min
17km

Distance

7 hours

Time

1060m

Ascent

1464m

Highest point

7/10

Difficulty

Snow Icon | Hokkaido Wilds
Mar-Apr

Best season

Muine-yama 無意根山 (1464m) and Kimobetsu-dake 喜茂別岳 (official height 1177m) are both popular mountains for day tours from Sapporo, but if you can arrange transport the two can be linked by a fine north-south traverse over the high ridge via Naka-dake 中岳 (1388m). Once on the ridge the re-ascents are not too onerous while there are plenty of opportunities for downhill fun. The feeling of being in the wild high country and the views over to the perfect snowy cone of Yotei-zan and mountains all around make this a brilliant expedition on a fine spring day.

We visited this route on Apr 21, 2019

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Muine-yama is located about 30km southwest of Sapporo. This route starts from the abandoned mine at Toyoha 豊羽鉱山 at the end of the local road running west from Jozankei 定山渓, around here. It finishes a few km over Nakayama Pass 中山峠 on Route 230, just over 20km from Jozankei, here.

General notes

This route is best done in spring with firmer snow conditions, longer days and more stable weather. Going north-south from Muine-yama gains height early in the day and maximizes the skiing potential. There is no public transport access so it is necessary to arrange to be dropped off and picked up, or use two cars. There is no hut directly on this route. The Hokkaido University Muine Hutte 無意根ヒュッテ is down the summer Usubetsu Route 薄別コース east of the main ridge.

Hut

Hütte Muine (full details here)

The Mt. Muine Hut, or Hütte Muine (無意根尻小屋, 1,020m), is one of the huts owned by Hokkaido University. It is managed by the Hokkaido University Ski Mountaineering Club’s (北大山スキー部) and is one of the historic ski-touring huts built in the hills of Sapporo in the 1930s. As such, it is most popular in the winter, but it can also be used in summer.

Route details

Apart from occasional pink tape in the trees and a few signs on the climb up Muine-yama the route is unmarked. From the trailhead at 600m it climbs steadily up to the main ridge at Senshakukochi 千尺高地, then makes a long rising traverse to Muine-yama (1464m) in about 3 hrs. From here there is a steeper ski descent to a broad col then an easy skin up to Naka-dake 中岳 (1388m) in about an hour. The broad open ridge then turns SSE with an easy angled ski descent, then via a minor peak at 1258m involving a couple of easy climbs and mellow runs to Kimobetsu-dake 喜茂別岳 (high point 1183m, 1.5 – 2 hours). The descent from here continues southwest along a ridge to about 990m, then southeast down a lovely slope through widely spaced trees to some power lines, following a forest road a short way before dropping down to the main road in about an hour.

Route Timing

The full route will take around 7 hours if doing the route in spring snow conditions.

Transport

Public transport:

There is no access to the trailhead by public transport.

By car: 

Road access from Jozankei via Prefectural Route 95 west of Jozankei. The road ends at the old mine at Toyoha. Park near the end of the road before the final hairpin bend. The end of the route is at a small cleared layby on the north side of Route 230 a few km down from Nakayama Pass on the Kimobetsu side.

Physical maps
Official Topo Map: Muineyama (無意根山) – map no. NK-54-14-15-3
Official Topo Map 2: Nakayamatoge (中山峠) – map no. NK-54-14-15-4

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

Muine-yama is a high and wild mountain and can be a dangerous place in bad weather; there have been fatalities up here. The slope below Senshakukochi 千尺高地 has been known to avalanche. Above this, the route is above the tree line and exposed until the final descent from Kimobetsu-dake, with few features to aid navigation in poor visibility. On the long traverse over to Muine-yama there is a point at 1269m known as Umanose 馬ノ背 where the ridge narrows as it rises again after a short dip. It is tempting to keep to the crest to the left of the trees but this is above a large cornice; better to keep to the right of the trees and double back onto the ridge after 150m or so. The rest of the route is relatively straightforward, though south of Naka-dake there are steep drops and large cornices to the west that would be a hazard in whiteout conditions.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Muine-yama~Kimobetsu-dake
Onsen nearby

Our pick of natural onsen would be Kogane-yu Onsen (here) or Matsu-no-yu (just below Kogane-yu) just past Jozankei on the way back to Sapporo. If you’re approaching from Niseko, then head to one of the many nice onsen in the Niseko area on your way back.

Extra Resources

For the route up to the Senjaku Plateau and Muine-yama, see the write-up on p. 140-149 of the Yuki-yama Guide (ISBN: 978-4894538047 – in Japanese). For the Kimobetsu-dake route, see the write-up on our site here, or from p. 166 of the Yuki-yama Guide (ISBN: 978-4894538047 – in Japanese).

Guide Options

If you’d like to ski this route and/or explore other hills around Sapporo together with a local certified guide, get in touch with either Wataru Nara or Takao Miyashita. They’re both born-and-bred Sapporo-based guides. They both cut their teeth on peaks including those around Sapporo City, have taken part in major international expeditions, and are senior figures in the local guiding and outdoor associations here in Hokkaido.

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

Kimobetsu-dake is one of our favourite hills around Sapporo, with its open summit and fine powder slopes. Many times we have stood on the top and looked north along the long ridge to Naka-dake and the humped white whaleback of Muine-yama. Jeff in particular had been wanting to do this traverse for years; it was only the transport logistics that had put us off. But somehow Jeff worked some domestic magic (I didn’t ask the price) and his wife kindly agreed to drop us off early at the trailhead and pick us up in the afternoon at the other end.

It was Easter Sunday, and a flawlessly beautiful spring day. The snow was firm and the skinning easy; the 560m ascent up to Senshakukochi seemed almost effortless. As the ridge opened out we reveled in the view of the postcard-picture-perfect snowy cone of Yotei-zan. We continued along the easy traverse through widely spaced birches, bypassed the cornice at Umanose, then pulled up onto the long summit ridge of Muine.

The drop off the south end of the summit ridge was initially a bit icy with occasional haimatsu dwarf pine branches poking through, so we slid down a short way before removing our skins. The descent to the broad saddle below provided some lovely steep swooping turns on good spring snow then a run out as far as possible before coming to a halt. The incline ahead of us to Naka-dake was gentle and the snow firm so we decided to walk up as the tip connector on one of Jeff’s skins looked like it was about to break. It was a bit of a plod but the rocky tor of Naka-dake made a perfect place for a spot of lunch in the sun.

The ridge from here gave an easy angled descent over some minor ups and downs. The terrain was open so it was easy to choose lines to get some good turns in and then traverse back across, and another easy short boot pack brought us to the intervening 1258m peak. At one point we came close to the cornice on the west side and through a break saw what looked like a steep and gnarly route down, though from our current viewpoint we could not tell if it ended in crags. A little further on we looked back and saw the whole slope and realized it could indeed be done. Next time.

Another good descent and a final boot pack led to Kimobetsu-dake. We looked back one last time over to Muine in the distance. Then we were back on familiar ground as we skied down to the trailhead, taking our time and savouring the last turns of the season on the perfect slope above the power line. All that remained was the last stretch back to the trailhead where our pick up was already waiting for us. Completing the traverse had been satisfying, the sun had shone all day and we’d only met two other people – a perfect way to finish the season.

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Comments | Queries | Reports

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

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