The previous night, we’d stayed at the amazing Tsurugi-zan Trailhead Hut. Unlike the previous times I’d stayed there, we weren’t the only group there last night. There was a group from Muroran, and a group from the same outdoor club Saoka is a part of. It was, overall, a very social night. We may have also been very happy that when we arrived, the other groups had already got the wood stove going. It was nice to be able to immediately gather around the warm stove.
We got away from the hut by about 7:30am, and made it to the trailhead by 8am. On the way, we stopped in at a Seikomart Convenience store to fill up on hot water and make some last-minute snack purchases. There was one other car at the trailhead – a solo skier who headed off about 15 minutes before us. There was a stiff, cold wind blowing, and we were all trying to keep warm because of the shadows of the large wind-break trees.
Soon enough we were on our way. We followed the forestry roads, weaving our way under train lines and expressways, until we were finally out of civilization’s grip, and climbing up towards the main northeastern ridge. It was a beautiful blue-sky day, and until we got to the main ridge, we were very much sheltered from the cold wind.
As soon as we were on the main ridge, we were being buffeted by the same cold wind we’d had at the trailhead. We threw on layers and enjoyed the amazing views as we trudged up the ridge.
The chap up ahead of us veered off the main ridge to the right just below the Zenpo false summit. This was a good call, as it avoided us having to get up to the summit and then descend again. Following the main summit ridge now, we made the final push up to the summit and were rewarded with incredible clear-sky views in all directions.
As somewhat expected, the descent down the eastern bowl was a process in trying to find the best snow to ski. The eastern and southern aspects were horrible sun crust, so we quickly turned our sights to the northern aspect on the other side of the bowl. We’d have to sacrifice some 200m vertical to get down to the ridge, but the remaining ski down to the valley floor was exhilarating.
The descent back down the flat-lands to the car was surprisingly fast and easy, with very little poling required.
Before the express-way drive back to Sapporo, we stopped in to the quaint, traditional public baths next to the Shintoku Train station. They were a simple, modest salve to our tired muscles after two full days of climbing and skiing.