Posted on Mar 16, 2021
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Posted on Mar 16, 2021
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12km

Distance

5 hours

Time

532m

Ascent

931m

Highest point

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

Best season

Ponsamakkenupuri ポンサマッケヌプリ (931m) is a peak on the Akan Caldera 阿寒カルデラ, right on the border of the Akan-Mashu National Park 阿寒摩周国立公園 in eastern Hokkaido. Through the trees near the summit, there's views south to the impressive Oakan-dake 雄阿寒岳 (1370m) volcano, and Panketo Lake below. The approach is a bit bland along the forestry road, but there's a good steep northern-aspect slope part way up which offers great snow and skiing. The final approach to the summit is very mellow, but the prehistoric feel of the forest is worth the visit.

We visited this route on Feb 22, 2021

Last updated Apr 2, 2021

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Ponsamakke-nupuri sits on the northern caldera rim of the Akan volcanic group in eastern Hokkaido. Oakan-dake is directly south of the summit, separated by Panketo Lake. The tour up to Ponsamakke-nupuri starts on the northern side of the caldera, however, at Tsubetsu Onsen, here. It’s about 1 hour drive from Kitami City.

General notes

It’s hard to overstate how unique and prehistoric feeling the forest is in and around Akan-Mashu National Park, particularly at this southern end of the park, near the Akan volcanic group. While this route does have some nice downhill skiing in the middle of the route, it’s best to do this route in anticipation more of the forest walk than the downhill. Navigating across the high plateau to the summit is fun – with no clear defining features, it’s a nice challenge to keep on an efficient bearing for the summit.

Hut
None
Route details

Head southeast along the snowed in forestry road from Tsubetsu Onsen, and take the first right – this new forestry road crosses a bridge before climbing steadily to its terminus at around 555m. This road seems to be frequented by snowmobiles, so you may have a firm trail to follow. At the terminus of the forestry road, carry on south, veering right to follow a wide gully, soon opening out into a large forested bowl. The slope here becomes steeper as you climb, aiming for the saddle at around 800m. At the saddle, most of the climbing is done, and it’s just a matter of making the gradual climb up a broad plateau to the summit. Mercifully, this plateau has enough of an incline to allow a skin-free ski back down on the descent. Trees at the summit block the view somewhat, so most visitors will drop a little to the west where a clearing allows a better view of Oakan-dake. Return back to Tsubetsu onsen the way you came.

Route Timing
Up | 4hrs
Down | 1.5hrs

Transport

Public transport:

There is no public transport to this route.

By car:

Tsubetsu Onsen (location) is about 25km southeast from central Tsubetsu. Note that Tsubetsu Pass 津別峠 is not open in winter. If approaching from the Teshikaga or Lake Kussharo side, expect about one hour to drive around to Tsubetsu via Bihoro.

Physical maps
Official Topo Map: Kotoninupuri (コトニヌプリ) – map no. NK-55-31-15-2

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. Unfortunately there are no avalanche information services for recreational backcountry users in this immediate area (but see the JAN reports and Furano Avalanche Center for sporadic observations eslewhere in Hokkaido).

Snow and
route safety

Navigation on this route can be a little tricky at times, with a gradual approach on broad slopes mostly in the forest. The open slope dropping northwest from the 802m knob near the saddle offers some excellent skiing, but is avalanche prone after snowfall – check snowpack stability if skiing this slope. Note that despite the low altitude, visitors should expect very cold temperatures and come suitably prepared.

Ponsamakkenupuri Ski Touring Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

C

30

Time ascending

B

6

Technicality

Altitude

B

6

Hazards

D

0

Navigation

C

6

Totals

48/100

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 Ponsamakkenupuri
Onsen nearby

The route starts and finishes from the Tsubetsu Onsen Lamp-no-Yado 津別温泉ランプの宿森つべつ (location, 600yen). This is a gorgeous onsen tucked into the forest, with relaxing outdoor bathing too. There’s an attached restaurant.

Extra Resources

See the detailed write-up in the Hokkaido Yukiyama Guidebook, p. 408-411.

Guide Options

If you’d like to ski this route and/or explore other areas of Eastern Hokkaido or Shiretoko together with a local certified guide, get in touch with Takao Miyashita. He’s a born-and-bred Hokkaido-based guide. From a young age he cut his teeth on peaks including those in far eastern Hokkaido. 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

Route blurb from the Hokkaido Yukiyama Guide (2015), p. 408 (translated by Hokkaido Wilds)

At Ponsamakke-nupuri, skiers can enjoy deep native forests, lakes, and powder snow. This mountain (the trig point name is Ponsamakke 本様毛) is a peak on the Akan caldera, and only appears on topomaps with an elevation point (931m). There’s no summer trail to the peak, but it’s designated as a horse-trekking location. In winter, it’s a long walk along a forestry road, but the climb is northern aspect, so the snow quality is good. The forest is very aesthetic too, so the walk is nice. The start of the route is an onsen too. It’s a route often climbed by locals.

Yesterday, we did the Kotoninupuri/Osappenupuri Loop with Gerry. Today Gerry couldn’t join us, but since we were in the area, we ticked off another of the Akan area routes in the guidebook – Ponsamakke-nupuri. Haidee had an online meeting at 2pm, so we started early. We were on the trail by 6:30am. Again, we were at Tsubetsu Onsen…the question would be, could we finish off the route in time for an onsen and get back to the AirBnB for Haidee’s meeting?

We made good time along the forestry road portion of the route. There were snowmobile tracks from the previous day, which made skinning quite easy.

Soon we came to the end of the road and started up the steep climb to the summit plateau. It was easy going through the forest, but soon the slope steepened. We were traveling across about 15cm of fresh snow which had fallen on a very hard sun or rain crust. Part way up the slope, we locked in our ski crampons, which made the going much easier – otherwise, the surface snow was just sliding away underneath our skis, with our skis unable to get a good purchase on the slope.

The tricky ascent up the slope had slowed our progress somewhat. Once we made it to the plateau, it was heads down, moving as fast as we could. The 2pm deadline to get back to the AirBnB for Haidee’s meeting was hanging over us. We would take a bearing every now and then, identifying the direction we had to take, and picking a tree far in the distance to move towards. This kept us on an efficient route to the summit, without veering too far off course. The entire plateau was climbing up to the summit, but without a clear destination as we skinned, it was easy to veer to the left or right.

We made good time across the plateau, breaking trail the whole way. As expected, there wasn’t much of a view from the actual summit. The guidebook suggests dropping down a bit for a better view, but we were feeling pressed for time, so gave it a miss. As we scoffed down some lunch, I sent the drone up for some shots. Luckily, the clouds were just high enough to give a glimpse of the impressive Oakan-dake volcano, Panketo Lake, and Lake Akan in the far distance.

For the descent across the plateau, we discussed putting skins back on, but in the end, we were able to rip back along our skin track with only some minor poling. The ski down the steep northeastern slope was better than we’d been expecting, with the hard crust under the fresh snow just holding up, and not breaking through.

We arrived back to the onsen safely, but unfortunately not with enough time for a soak. We packed up and drove directly back to the AirBnB, with enough time for a quick shower before hitting the PC’s for an afternoon of remote working. A late start to work well spent.

Comments | Queries | Reports

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

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Ponsamakkenupuri Ski Touring Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

C

30

Time ascending

B

6

Technicality

Altitude

B

6

Hazards

D

0

Navigation

C

6

Totals

48/100

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.