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.