We were following Rick and Jeff up Nissho Pass on Route 274, and they just kept driving past the trailhead parking area. About 500m up the road, Jeff pulled over. “They’ve removed the tunnel!” exclaimed Rick. Indeed, on Google Maps as well as the official GSI topomaps, there are snow drift tunnels marked, and this is what Rick had been looking out for as an indication for where to stop. While the tunnels had been there the last time Rick did the route, the tunnel seems to have been removed during the Nissho Pass road reconstruction project after the 2016 typhoons.
Once we had our bearings, we parked up and got onto the mountain. It was glorious warm weather, with hardly a breath of wind.
As with many other parts of Hokkaido this 2018/2019 season, Nissho Pass had obviously also missed out on much of its normal snowfall. The main slope from the top of the no-name peak looked perfectly skiable, but we had to ski much further up the deep gully than what appears to be usual, before being able to cross. On the way up to the saddle between Mumei-ho and Kumami-yama, we were contending somewhat with exposed sasa bamboo grass and haimatsu low pines.
Once on the main ridge, it was mostly smooth-sailing to the peak of Mumei-ho. We decided not to head right to Kumami-yama, as we had plans to ski Nissho Peak on the southern side of the pass too, so we wanted to save on time. From the ridge we had grand views of the surprisingly snow-less Tokachi Plains. The Tokachi Plains area doesn’t get much snow at the best of times, but there seemed to be literally no snow at all.
From the Mumei-ho peak, we could see Nissho Peak further south quite clearly. The peak’s north-facing slope would be where we’d head next by car, after skiing this southerly aspect slope first.
Considering the overall lack of snowfall in February, the snow was in excellent shape. Nice and firm underfoot, great spring-like conditions. Jeff unleashed his hard-charging skiing past, and made the most of the features.
Back at the cars, we made a quick getaway towards the tippy top of Nissho Pass, to have a crack at Nissho Peak.