Nissho Pass Mumei-ho Ski Touring

日勝峠無名峰

Posted on Mar 14, 2019
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Posted on Mar 14, 2019

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Reading time: 3 min
4.7km

Distance

2.5 hours

Time

423m

Ascent

1328m

Highest point

6/10

Difficulty

Snow Icon | Hokkaido Wilds
Mar-May

Best season

Mumei-ho (無名峰, 1328m) literally means 'no name peak', but it is a conveniently located peak that towers above the main Route 274 Nissho Pass trunk route. This makes easy access to some superb skiing on this south-facing slope. It also allows eye-popping views across the expansive Tokachi Plains to the east, as well as the entire Tokachi Range, and the Hidaka Range to the south. Starting at almost 1000m, this route should not be taken lightly. Weather windows in January and February will be few and far between - expect changeable weather and extreme cold temperatures.

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

This route is located on the northern side of Nissho Pass, the main road pass connecting the Tokachi plains with the western side of Hokkaido. The route starts at a parking area (here) just before a large hairpin bend, just below the Nissho Pass proper.

General notes

This is a popular backcountry skiing route in the northern Hidaka Range. Pure ease of access makes it a great place in good conditions to do a few laps, with fantastic views thrown in for good measure. As noted in the safety notes, the route starts at 1000m, which is well within serious mountaineering territory in Hokkaido.

Hut

Tsurugi-zan Trailhead Hut (full details here)

The Tsurugi-zan Trailhead Hut (剣山登山口山小屋) is a solid, barracks-like concrete-block hut situated right next to the Kenzan Shrine on the northeastern edge of the Hidaka mountain range. If your mountaineering plans involve any of the peaks on the eastern side of the Hidaka Range, then this makes for a good base for a couple of nights. Replete with mains electricity and lighting, the hut is directly accessible by car. There’s a big wood stove with wood provided. For all the services provided, the hut costs a whopping 0yen per night.

Route markers

This route is not marked.

Route Timing
Up | 1hrs
Down | 0.5hrs

Expect about 1hr from car park to the summit of Mumei-ho. Add an extra 45 minutes if visiting Kumami-yama. 30 minutes back down from the summit of Mumei-ho to the car park.

From the carpark, cross the road and start climbing up towards the deep gully to the climber’s right. You’ll probably pass a yellow sign warning visitors about the dangers of backcountry skiing – ease of access means there are far too many people who take this area lightly. Carry sidling along the gully until you come across an easy-to-cross snow-bridge. There shouldn’t be any particularly steep drops down to the gully. Just keep climbing up until a broad-cover bridge appears. Once across the gully, climb steadily to the saddle between Kumami-yama and Mumei-ho. Once at the saddle, either go right to check out Kumami-yama, or continue left up the ridge to the Mumei-ho peak. On the descent, there are plenty of options for where to ski, once past the cornices that persist to around 1200m. Generally, keeping to the skier’s right, rather than dropping down towards the gully, will allow for a more sustained run.

Transport

Public transport:

There are no public transport options for this route.

By car: 

There is a large parking area just before the large hairpin bend, here. Note that while there used to be a very obvious snow/avalanche tunnel on this bend, this is no longer there.

Physical maps
Official Topo Map: Sarudake (沙流岳) – map no. NK-54-08-07-1

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

As mentioned previously, ease of access to this area via the main Route 274 can give a dangerous false sense of security. Anywhere above 1000m in Hokkaido is a serious winter mountaineering environment, and this is where this route starts. Expect the possibility of ferocious winds (100km+), extreme temperatures (-30degC), and the real risk of avalanche. The Hidaka Range is particularly susceptible to the formation of large cornices, and this route up Mumei-ho is no exception. Make conservative decisions when conditions are anything less than perfect.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Mumei-ho (Nissho Pass)
Onsen nearby

If you’re headed in the Obihiro direction, then the closest onsen on the way would be the Honomai Super Sento (410yen, location) in Memuro Town. There’s an even closer, super-local public bath in Shimizu Town, here. If returning to Sapporo, the Hidaka Kogenso Onsen Hotel has a nice enough onsen (500yen per person) in Hidaka Town, here.

Extra Resources
  • See Hokkaido Hiking Logs’ write-up of the route here.

Guide Options

If you’d like to ski this route and/or explore other areas of the Hidaka Range together with a local certified guide, get in touch with Takao Miyashita. He’s a born-and-bred Hokkaido based guide, with IFMGA and JMGA certification. From a young age he cut his teeth on peaks in Hokkaido, including the rugged Hidaka Range. 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.

Photo Gallery

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

Route blurb from the Hokkaido Yukiyama Guide (2015), p. 336 (translated)

This route is close to the Nissho Pass, and starts at close to 1000m in altitude. This means climbers can easily get to the Hokkaido east-west border ridge. Climbers can see the Tokachi Plains and the Hidaka Range from Kumami-yama. From Mumei-ho at 1328m, climbers can enjoy views from eastern Daisetsu to the Tokachi Range, Ashibetsu-dake, and Yubari-dake. This route is an easy climb, but it it high altitude. During the deep winter months the weather is often difficult, so it can be a formidable place. For this reason, we recommend the more stable period between March and May.

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.

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Comments | Queries | Reports

Done this route to Mumei-ho (Nissho Pass), or others nearby? Thinking of doing it? Please post any feedback, reports, or queries here. Thanks!

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