Posted on Dec 10, 2022
0
ES
Posted on Dec 10, 2022
0 0
ES
7.5km

Distance

4.5 hours

Time

530m

Ascent

1041m

Highest point

5.5/10
Difficulty
Snow Icon | Hokkaido Wilds
Jan-Apr

Best season

Naganuma 長沼 is a picturesque mountain tarn located in the vast backcountry playground that is the greater Chisenupuri/Shakunage-dake area at the eastern end of the Niseko Range. There's a broad east-facing slope above the tarn, offering an extraordinary acherage of skiing. The drop is about 200m, offering good lapping potential in the right conditions. It's more or a trek to get to compared to other zones in the area, but it rewards with a remote, uncrowded experience, off the beaten track.

We visited this route on Mar 06, 2022

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Naganuma Pond 長沼 is a large mountain tarn sandwiched between the popular Niseko Range backcountry peaks of Shakunage-dake シャクナゲ岳 and Chisenupuri チセヌプリ. It’s relatively close to the international ski resort area of Niseko, in southwestern Hokkaido. This route up to the peak to the west of Naganuma starts at the Chisenupuri parking area, here.

General notes

This broad slope makes up part of the grand backcountry playground that is the greater Chisenupuri/Shakunage area. It’s suited to more settled weather due to the broad plateau that needs to be navigated, but it’s a great, remote-feeling backcountry zone. Take a picnic and enjoy a leisurely lunch on the frozen, snowed-over tarn.

Hut
None
Route details

Park up at the Chisenupuri parking area. Make sure to arrive early (before 9am-ish), as this parking area fills up fast, particularly at the weekends. Head west from the parking lot towards the Hokkaido Backcountry Club (HBC) Chisenupuri Snowcats base. The legends at HBC have provided a public uptrack to the far west of the old ski area. It’s marked to the upper part of the ski area, so follow your nose. It’s about a 40 minute climb to the top of the ski area.

About 500m before you get to the top of the ski area while the uptrack veers climbers’ right (to the east), carry on straight north to gain the large plateau at the southern base of Chisenupuri. If the weather is clear, you’ll see the conical peak of Shakunage-dake to the northwest. Essentially follow the summer trail marked on the map to the 881m point on the broad saddle between Chisenpuri and Shakunage-dake.

From the 881m point, climb west-northwest, past the northern side of the small knob, referred to locally as Venus Hill ビーナスの丘. Carry on north, climbing to the no-name peak at around 1043m. We would recommend skiers check the snowpack on the aspect they intend to ski, so consider wrapping around the east side of the peak, to get a feel for snow conditions on that broad eastern face.

If everything looks stable, ski east off the peak down to the pond. Return to the start point at Chisenupuri parking via your trail up – just make sure to keep off the cleared runs on the old Chisenupuri ski area. They’re for paying catski users only.

Route Timing
Up | 3hrs
Down | 1.5hrs

Transport

Public transport:

This route is not accessible by public transport.

By car:

There is plenty of parking at the Chisenpuri parking area, but note that this parking lot fills up fast on weekends and public holidays. Aim to be there no later than 9am, if you want a spot to park.

Physical maps
Print: HokkaidoWilds.org 1:25,000 TOPOMAP+
Niseko Backcountry map: Buy on Amazon.co.jp | See companion site for more purchase options
Official Topo Map: Chisenupuri (チセヌプリ) – map no. NK-54-20-7-4

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).

Aspect
The main aspect skiers are exposed to on the descent and/or ascent is . Other aspects that may also be encountered while following the route outlined on this page include: East, South. 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 Shiribeshi area, consider looking at the Japan Avalanche Network avalanche bulletins (updated Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays at 8am) or the daily Niseko Avalanche Information website. These may give extra insight into avalanche conditions in the greater area around the route.

Snow and
route safety

Take care when crossing the large featureless plateau-like saddle between Chisenupuri and Shakunage-dake. This would be a bad place to be caught out in a whiteout if you haven’t got a good form of navigation (GPS and/or GPS-enabled smartphone app with maps pre-loaded). Note that the main attraction of this route – the broad eastern face above Naganuma – is somewhat in the lee of the seasonal northwesterly storms. This slope will be heavily loaded after storm events. Large cornices form at the top of the slope at the northern half of the slope.

Naganuma Pond Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

C

30

Time ascending

C

3

Technicality

Altitude

B

6

Hazards

C

6

Navigation

B

12

Totals

57/100

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 Naganuma
Onsen nearby

Yukichichibu Onsen 雪秩父温泉 (location, 700yen) is just 200m up the road from the Chisenupuri parking lot. This sulfurous, silty onsen is a must-visit in the area. Nice outdoor pools, and there’s an attached restaurant serving meals during the daytime (lunch-focussed).

Extra Resources
No extra English resources that we know of. If you know of any, please let us know in the comments.

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. See a full list of English-speaking Hokkaido Mountain Guides Association (HMGA) guides on the HMGA website here

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

With an improving weather forecast for the day, we were hopeful this route would go for us, despite the socked-in morning forecast. We all met at the Chisenupuri parking lot early. Apparently too early, as there was a 30cm layer of fresh snow covering the entire lot. Just after we arrived, the municipal snow clearer arrived, and started to clear the lot. It didn’t take long for him to have one half of the parking area cleared, so we moved our cars so he could get to the rest of it.

As per the forecast, we started the climb under a low covering of cloud. The fresh snow was getting our hopes up for some great surface conditions on the eastern slope above Naganuma. We made good time up the Chisenupuri Snowcats public uptrack.

Before long, we arrived at the spot where we would veer off the standard Chisenpuri route, and head north up to the plateau between Chisenupuri and Shakunage-dake. As we were stopped having a break, a group of splitboarders passed us.

“We’re going to Shakunage-dake,” they replied when I asked where they were going. 

“Thank you in advance for breaking trail,” I replied jokingly.

“Thank you for your trail so far!” one of them replied back.

After the break, we carried on. The skies remained dull and muted. We were hiking up into the mist, surrounded by frost-covered trees. Almost spooky. Inspiring in its perfection.

As we emerged up onto the featureless plateau-like saddle between Chisenpuri and Shakunage-dake, we found a stiff wind blowing. The party in front of us were almost invisible in the mist.

In our merry troupe, we had myself, Haidee, Ben, Timbah, and Mika. We were all now wrapped up against the cold wind.

Our original plan had us climb to the top of the eastern slope and just ski it from there. However, it appeared that we might be exposed to the strong wind all the way up the ridge if we did that, so we changed plans, and set about zigzagging our way up the eastern face proper. This would also give us a feel for the surface conditions for the descent.

The surface conditions were less than perfect, but not untenable. A thin windpack on top of less consolidated snow. As we climbed, however, the weather started to clear. We were treated to glimpses of the slope below, as well as Naganuma pond, frozen and covered in snow.

In places, it was clear that there had been strong winds in the alpine the previous night. Features had been stripped back to icy hardpack that required good trust in one’s ski edges. The going was slow, but we eventually made it to the summit just as the party ahead of us was leaving for their descent.

Whereas we’d decided we would avoid a considerable roll-over feature at the lip of the slope below the summit (due to concerns over wind loading), the splitboarder party threw themselves over and down the eastern face with great confidence.

After recouping a little at the surprisingly windless summit, we then took our turn to ski the face. We skirted around the windlip and then let it rip, all the way to the pond.

At the pond, I sent the drone up to get a few shots of the wider area. 

As Murphy’s Law would have it, as we were soaking in the surroundings on the pond, eating lunch, the sun came out. Bright, warm, hot even.

By the time we had eaten lunch and made our way back across the plateau to the top of the Chisenpururi Snowcats ski area, the fresh dry snow we’d enjoyed on the climb up had turned to cream cheese.

Comments | Queries | Reports

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

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Naganuma Pond Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

C

30

Time ascending

C

3

Technicality

Altitude

B

6

Hazards

C

6

Navigation

B

12

Totals

57/100

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.