Nissho Peak Ski Touring (Nissho Pass, Hokkaido, Japan)

日勝ピーク

Posted on Mar 12, 2019
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20 2
N
Posted on Mar 12, 2019
Share on facebook
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20 2
N
3km

Distance

2 hours

Time

379m

Ascent

1445m

Highest point

5/10
Difficulty
Snow Icon | Hokkaido Wilds
Jan-May

Best season

The Nissho Pass (日勝峠, 1022m) is one of the highest paved mountain passes in Hokkaido. It crosses the impressive and rugged Hidaka Range, connecting the east and west parts of Hokkaido. From the top of the pass, Nissho Peak (日勝ピーク, 1445m) is a quick 1.5 hour climb away, and offers some nice open skiing on its northern ridge. The main face of this peak has a northerly aspect, so keeps cool even well into early spring. High altitude backcountry skiing, by Hokkaido standards, doesn't get any more accessible than this from the road.

We visited this route on Mar 05, 2019

Last updated Apr 2, 2021

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

This ski touring route is on the southern side of Nissho Pass is at the northern reaches of the Hidaka Range in central Hokkaido. The route starts at the western end of the Nissho Tunnel (日勝トンネル), here.

General notes

Ski touring from the road doesn’t get much easier in Hokkaido than the Nissho Pass area. This route starts from the very tippy top of Nissho Pass, so you’ve already gained a solid 1000m in altitude just by driving up the pass. This means that the season up here is long – conditions are usually cold. But along with that comes changeable and windy weather, which can strip the slopes to a certain degree.

If the skiing conditions are less than face-shot pow, there’s always the views. Expect mind-bending views across the expansive Tokachi Plains to the east, and endless peaks upon peaks south along the rugged and impenetrable Hidaka Range. Look to the north and you’ll have a full-frontal view of the incongruous Tomamu Ski area and twin-towers in the distance.

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 details

This route is not marked.

Route Timing
Up | 1.5hrs
Down | 0.5hrs

Expect about 1hr to 1.5hr from the car park to the peak, and then about 3o minutes back down.

Transport

Public transport:

This route is not accessible by public transport.

By car:

There is a large snow-cleared parking area next to the entrance to the Nissho Pass tunnel, here.

Physical maps
Official Topo Map: Sarudake (沙流岳) – map no. NK-54-08-07-1
Official Topo Map 2: Tokachi-ishiyama (十勝石) – map no. NK-54-08-03-3

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 North. 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 Furano area, consider looking at the Furano Avalanche Center (on Facebook). They issue sporadic observations throughout the season which may give extra insight into avalanche conditions.

Snow and
route safety

The main risk noted in the Hokkaido Yukiyama Guide is the mid-winter weather in the Hidaka Ranges. Despite the easy access from the main arterial route highway, this is a very high-altitude, high-wind, and cold area of Hokkaido. In mid-winter, expect temperatures (excluding windchill) to less than -20degC, and very changeable weather. March is the recommended season for ski touring in this area.

Nissho Peak Ski Touring (Nissho Pass, Hokkaido, Japan) Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

C

30

Time ascending

D

0

Technicality

Altitude

A

10

Hazards

C

6

Navigation

C

6

Totals

52/100

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 Nissho Peak
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 the write-up (in Japanese) in the Yuki-yama Guide (ISBN: 978-4894538047) from page 340-341. The route outlined in this guide carries on to Mt. Sarudake to the south-west.

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. 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

After a quick blat on the northern side of Nissho Pass, up on Mumei-ho (‘no name peak’), we drove the 1km or so up Nissho Pass to the entrance to the Nissho Tunnel. Just to the left of the tunnel entrance was the large parking area where we stopped, scoffed down some lunch, and got kitted up to do some more skiing.

Once again, we were taken aback at the relative lack of snow this year. Usually around here, all undergrowth would be covered, save for a few errant haimatsu pines. It didn’t affect the downhill skiing too much, but it was surprising nonetheless.

By the time we got onto the ridge proper, we were being buffeted by a strong wind blowing up from the plains below to the east.  Highway 274 slowly disappeared into the distance as we climbed, and was replaced by big views across the Tokachi Plains to the east.

The Nissho Peak summit was a general mess of low haimatsu pines with very thin snow cover. While not essential for the ultimate goal of downhill skiing, we made the pilgrimage to the peak anyway. From the peak were great views of Tomamu Ski Resort to the north.

The downhill ski from the summit was actually much better than we’d been anticipating. The northerly aspect of the slope had kept a nice layer of powdery snow as we skied generously to the skier’s right, towards the gully.

This was my first time to the Nissho Pass area, but with the two routes so close to the road, it will probably become a regular place to stop off for a ski when passing through the area.

Comments | Queries | Reports

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

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Nissho Peak Ski Touring (Nissho Pass, Hokkaido, Japan) Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

C

30

Time ascending

D

0

Technicality

Altitude

A

10

Hazards

C

6

Navigation

C

6

Totals

52/100

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.