Posted on Dec 22, 2021
0
ES
Posted on Dec 22, 2021
0 0
ES
7km

Distance

4 hours

Time

820m

Ascent

1532m

Highest point

6/10
Difficulty
Snow Icon | Hokkaido Wilds
Jan-Apr

Best season

The grand eastern face of Pekerebetsu-dake ペケレベツ岳 (1532m) stands out on the eastern approach to Nissho Pass 日勝峠 in the northern Hidaka Range. It offers easy access to good steep skiing, with excellent powder skiing to be had in the right conditions. The peak gives incredible panoramic views across the Hidaka range and the Tokachi Plains to the east, as well as the Daisetsuzan Range to the northeast.

We visited this route on Mar 13, 2021

Last updated Jan 6, 2022

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Pekerebetsu-dake sits just south of Nissho Pass 日勝峠 at the northern end of the Hidaka Range. There’s a summer trail to the summit along the high ridge to the north, but the winter backcountry route starts at a cleared parking area at around 665m altitude on Route 274, here, about 7km before the top of the pass (when approaching from the east).

General notes

Pekerebetsu-dake is often overlooked in favour of other more accessible peaks in the Nissho Pass area, namely Nissho Peak and its sibling to the north. Pekerebetsu-dake has a much more intimidating big-mountain feel to it, however. Experienced backcountry skiers will enjoy the wide, steep eastern face, and a number of aspects to choose from on the descent.

There are a couple of viable approaches – either the Centre Ridge or the one ridge to the north of the centre ridge (we’re calling it the North Ridge). The Center Ridge is easier to get onto at the confluence of the two small gullies, but requires a very steep last approach to the summit. The North Ridge has a troublesome bluff to negotiate at the base of the spur, but arguably has a more gradual, less exposed final approach to the summit.

Hut
None
Route details

Park up at the car park at around 665m on the eastern side of Nissho Pass. Head along the forestry road marked on the map for a few hundred meters before crossing a small stream. From there, head southwest, roughly following to the north (and uphill) of the main creek. After about an hour, you’ll drop down into the creek and be faced with the decision to head up the North Ridge or Centre Ridge. Most skiers opt for the Centre Ridge, as it’s more direct, albeit a little more exposed.

With a recent report of moderate avalanche risk, we opted for the more gradual North Ridge approach. This required us to head up the due-west gully for about 300m before we found a suitable slope to gain the spur. From there, it was a matter of zigzagging our way up to the high ridge. The last hundred meters or so was very steep before topping out on the summit ridge. We returned the way we came.

Route Timing
Up | 3.5hrs
Down | 1hrs

All going well, this is a fairly straightforward half-day trip, but allow plenty of time.

Transport

Public transport:

There is no public transport to this route.

By car:

There’s room for about 10 cars to park in the cleared parking area at around 665m on the eastern side of Nissho Pass. It’s just next to the main Route 274 Nissho Pass road.

Physical maps
Official Topo Map: Tokachi-ishiyama (十勝石山) – map no. NK-54-8-3-3

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 East. Other aspects that may also be encountered while following the route outlined on this page include: 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 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 prevailing weather systems in Hokkaido winter are from the northwest, so any eastern aspect slope in the Hidaka Range will be highly susceptible to wind loading and well-developed cornices. Pekerebetsu-dake is no exception, with a prominent summit ridge and large cornices. Recreational avalanche forecasts for the area are non-existent (closest is the volunteer Furano Avalanche Center), so make sure to make your own observations.

Pekerebetsu-dake Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

B

35

Time ascending

C

3

Technicality

Altitude

A

10

Hazards

B

12

Navigation

D

0

Totals

60/100

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 Pekerebetsu-dake
Onsen nearby

The closest spot for a soak is the super local public baths in Shimizu-cho, the Shimizu-cho Public Baths 清水町役場 町営公衆浴場 (location, 450yen), but it’s not an onsen. If you’re headed back to Furano via the Karikachi Pass, consider the onsen at Sahoro Hotel サホロホテル (location, 1000yen).

Extra Resources

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

Furano Adventure Tours may also be able to help.

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

Pekerebetsu-dake had thwarted us a couple of times during the 2020/2021 winter season. Once it was because of a very high wind forecast. Another time it was because of a very unstable avalanche forecast by the good folk at the Furano Avalanche Center.

Today, we had nothing but blue skies and settled weather on the forecast, so we decided it was our chance to get up onto Pekerebetsu-dake.

We were a hodge-podge group of skiers and snowboarders. One skier hadn’t been out in the backcountry much this season, so was huffing and puffing on the ascent. But the weather was good, and spirits were high. We all arrived at the car park in order to get going at 9am.

Once we were on the snow, initial indications of snow surface quality were not good. Breakable crust. Ugh. If we were lucky, the sun would soften things up a little for the descent, despite the cold air.

Somewhat characteristic of this route are the wind/snow-drift breaks along the lower plateau on the approach. The large clearing would give us prime views of a very steep-looking eastern face in front of us. The northern ridge was definitely looking less intimidating.

Before long, we shimmied down into the main creek gully to assess our options for the main climb up to the summit. Most skiers opt for the Center Ridge to the west-southwest, and it certainly seemed to have the easier climb on to the spur. The North Ridge directly west would theoretically give us a more gradual final approach to the summit, but the head of the spur was more or less a bluff.

Confident we’d find a spot to gain the spur, we headed west up the due-west gully for about 300m, before finding a rather bushy but doable slope to switch back on to gain the spur. It was a bit messy, but we all made it up onto the ridge. The surface conditions were softened somewhat by the sun. We had high hopes for some half-decent skiing on the descent.

From there, we were now heading up through well-spaced trees on a broad ridge.

The softened surface snow combined with still-cold shadows made for some challenges for some of the crew. We had glop-stopper and scrapers, however, so the iced-up skins were soon dealt to. 

Our progress was a little slower than we’d hoped for. Our less-uphill-fit backcountry skier in the group, while smokingly fast on the descent, was taking her time on the ascent. Time was getting on, but we did stop about 3/4 of the way up to check on the snowpack conditions. Everything looked solid…including the breakable crust…the descent was going to be interesting.

The final 100m of the ascent to the summit ridge was a bit of a chore. The breakable crust became not particularly breakable in places, and out in the front breaking trail, I was feeling all rather exposed. Ben was on snowshoes, and found it much eaiser going on the narrow but very hard-packed steep summit ridge. Those of us on skis or splitboard stuck to the upper face as far as we could, searching out the last pockets of soft-ish snow to set our skin track.

We eventually gained the summit ridge though, and from there it was smooth, albeit very hard-packed, sailing. Typical of the Hidaka Range, the western side of the summit ridge was scoured, with creeping haimatsu pine still exposed.

The views, however, were magestic. Across to the Daisetsuzan Range, and also way over to Yubari-dake to the northwest.

Unfortunately, despite our elation at the wonderful views and finally getting to the top of Pekerebetsu-dake, the descent was anything but awe-inspiring. Our descent slope was now in the shade, and we had breakable crust the entire descent. It was very much survival skiing. 

I vowed to come back some time in more favourable conditions!

Comments | Queries | Reports

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

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Pekerebetsu-dake Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

B

35

Time ascending

C

3

Technicality

Altitude

A

10

Hazards

B

12

Navigation

D

0

Totals

60/100

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.