Posted on Apr 3, 2020
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Posted on Apr 3, 2020

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Reading time: 6 min


6 hours





Highest point



Snow Icon | Hokkaido Wilds

Best season

Porotengu (幌天狗, 1222m) is unmarked on official topomaps, but it offers inspiring views of remote peaks in the interior of the Mashike mountain range. More of a walk than a ski - but still with some fun, easy skiing on the upper portions - this route is perfect for the long, warm days of spring. To the south are expansive views of the Japan Sea, the top of Mt. Yotei way in the distance, as well as Shakotan-dake further south still. In the later spring months, be prepared for some bush-bashing lower down on the overgrown forestry road.

We visited this route on Mar 31, 2020

Route Map

Need to know details


Porotengu is a large prominence on Gunbetsu-dake’s (群別岳, 1376m) southwestern ridge in the Mashike Range on the Rumoi coast north of Sapporo City. This spring ski touring route up to the peak starts just east of an orchard, deep in a valley in the settlement of Poro. Depending on how much snow is still on the road, you’ll either start from the end of the snow clearing at the orchard (around here), or at the forestry road gate (around here).

General notes

The Mashike Range has some truly spectacular peaks tucked away in its interior. Shokanbetsu-dake (暑寒別岳, 1492m) is perhaps the most well known of them all. The tricky part is winter access to the peaks. They all require long approaches, and the harsh deep winter weather on the exposed Japan Sea coast is often ferocious and unrelenting. This leaves most of the peaks more suited to spring exploring, and Protengu (幌天狗, 1222m) is no exception. It’s a long trek along a very mellow ridge, but the views are really quite spectacular – we’d only really recommend it for a stellar weather forecast (check the Meteogram for cloud cover forecast on here).

  • Spring skiing: This route starts quite low down, at around 110m in altitude. This means in spring (March/April) the first 300m or so of elevation gain may require some bush-bashing through sasa bamboo grass and across logs etc. We’d say it’s worth this effort though – the ridge further up is really quite spectacular.


Route details

Start from as far up the road from the orchard as the snow (or forestry road gate) will allow. In about 200m, the main forestry road continues veering to the left, but you’ll need to take the overgrown bushy fork to the right. If you look at the road and think “surely not!”, then that’s the road you take. After some mild bush-bashing in places, there’s a logging clearing, and further on you’ll cross the stream. There may or may not be a snow bridge, but even if there’s not, it’s an easy step over the stream. Continue following the ‘road’ up, cutting straight up to avoid the long zigs and zags where possible. At around 500m, the route emerges onto the wide, gently-sloping southwest ridge, now mostly snowed-in. The ridge gains steepness to a degree, but is overall gentle enough to keep skinning straight up. Between around 650m and 950m, the ridge is an expansive field of beautiful shirakaba white birch, nicely spaced. At around 1000m, there’s a very short but steep slope – about 30m vertical – that will often require ski-crampons or boot-packing. We managed this without, but with some careful tight kick-turns. Fromthe top of this, it’s not far to the summit, with no more steep climbing. Return the way you came, but take extra care not to ski too far off your up-route – it’s very easy to be cajoled into skiing towards the skier’s right.

Route Timing
Up | 4.5hrs
Down | 1.5hrs

Timing on this route is a bit tricky. It’s about a 6 hour return ski if you’re on your skis all the way from the start. On March 31st 2020, we found that we had to walk some of the way up the forestry road – the snow was patchy, with gaps here and there. Switching from skis to walking, as well as clambering over exposed fallen trees took up some time. We ended up taking just under 8 hours for the full route. Still well worth it, but it was a long day out.


Public transport:

There’s no public transport access to this route.

By car: 

There is good vehicle access from the settlement of Poro on the Japan Sea coast, from the beautiful coastal Route 231, just south of Rumoi. There’s a large cemetery on the corner – drive up past an orchard until you get to snow covering the road, or you get to the forestry road gate, around here.

Physical maps
Official Topo Map: Hamamasu (浜益) – map no. NK-54-13-11-1

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).

Snow and route safety

The main point of concern on this route is getting lost, particularly on the descent. The wide, open ridge has no defining features, so make sure to keep an eye on the map. This is also one of the longer daytrip ski tour routes in Hokkaido – make sure to bring extra water and food.

Weather forecast weather forecast for Porotengu
Onsen nearby

The natural choice for a post-hike soak is the Hamamasu Onsen hotsprings (浜益温泉, location, 500yen). They’ve got a large outdoor bath area, as well as sauna and cold pool. There’s a restaurant attached for lunch meals. There’s often local produce for sale in the entrance area.

Extra Resources

See the detailed write-up in the Hokkaido Yuki-yama Guidebook on p. 312-315.

Guide Options

If you’d like to ski this route and/or explore areas north of Sapporo together with a local certified guide, get in touch with either Wataru Nara or Takao Miyashita. They’re both born-and-bred Sapporo-based guides. They both cut their teeth on peaks including those in northern Hokkaido, have taken part in major international expeditions, and are senior figures in the local guiding and outdoor associations here in Hokkaido. 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. 312 (translated by Hokkaido Wilds)

Get up close to the famous remote peaks of the Mashike Range. On the topographical maps, Porotengu is not labelled, so we’re using the summit trig point name here. The peak itself is one of the peaks on Gunbetsudake’s southwestern ridge, but it’s not quite pointy enough to be called “Tengu”. When viewed from Hamamasu village, lined up shoulder-to-shoulder with Gunbetsu-dake, it’s prominence is quite startling. There’s no summer trail to the summit, and the distance from the bottom is far. Therefore, it’s best climbed during the spring snow season from late March. It’s quite easy to get lost on the wide open, gently sloping ridge, so it’s a mountain that requires good map reading skills.

“Well that makes it 7 hours and 50 minutes,” I said to Haidee as we finally made it back to the car, after a long but rewarding spring day out, skiing in the Mashike mountains. It was 2:50pm, and we’d left the car at 8am that morning.

I knew it was going to be a long day. The total suggested time in the Hokkaido Yuki-yama Guidebook was 6 hours. It was Haidee’s first time properly bush-bashing to access snow though, so the going was slow at times. We started out with high hopes, as we were able to skin along a small patch of snow along the forestry road, not far from the gate.

It wasn’t soon after we got onto the minor forestry road that we realized it wasn’t going to be as smooth sailing as we’d hoped. The extra vegetation had protected the road from a certain amount of snowfall, meaning we found large sections more or less void of snow, or at least large gaps between those islands of snow.

As we neared the stream crossing, things opened up a bit, but we were still picking our way from snow island to snow island. There were quite a few trees down, presumably from typhoons in the last couple of years. There wasn’t a snow bridge over the stream, but it was small enough to be able to easily lunge across in one step. As we carried along the forestry road, there were fewer and fewer gaps between the snow, until we found ourselves able to skin without much hindrance.

Once we were actually skinning (as opposed to walking and sometimes skinning), it was pure spring skiing bliss. It was certainly more of a walk than a ski, but we had all the time in the world, and as we ascended the forest only got better. Gorgeous shirakaba white birch, huge kumagera black woodpeckers, crystal clear blue sky…and a discarded jeep 🙂

We were following a number of vague tracks in the snow. They looked to be a few days old, perhaps from the weekend – we were here on  Tuesday, having worked through the weekend to give us time to make the most of the forecast good weather. We stopped at around the 745m mark for a bite to eat for lunch.

“The peak looked close from back a bit further,” mused Haidee. “Now it still looks really far away.”

I sent the drone up to get some aerial photos of the upper portion of the route. All around were amazing looking downhill slopes. If only they all didn’t take four hours of walking to access them, we’d probably have been tempted to lap a few.

From the 745m point, things only got more amazing. We were now climbing uphill through rolling hills and meadows of snow and old-growth shirakaba white birch trees. It was like something out of a fairy tale. The snow surface was film crust on nice sherbet snow underneath. I was very much looking forward to the downhill run on this.

We were now getting close to the treeline, so the mountains around us came into stark relief. To our right was Kogane-yama, a prominent volcanic peak rising abruptly out of the ground. We’d hiked Kogane-yama in autumn last year, and I’d enjoyed the airy summit traverse.

Eventually, we came to the crux of the route – a 30m very steep ‘step’ up to the 1044m point. Haidee struggled on the sherbet snow, slipping a couple of times. We were carrying ski crampons with us, and in hindsight should have put them on for an easier zig-zag up the face of the slope. Indeed if this slope had been frozen, we definitely would have needed them to get to the top of it.

From the top of the steep slope, it was another hefty walk along a gently sloping ridge to the summit. The summit gave us 360 degree views of the interior Mashike mountains, and down to the Japan Sea coast. A stiff, cold wind was blowing, which hurried our descent.

I didn’t take many photos of the main descent – it was just too much fun. The snow was very fast – that very slightly frozen film crust sped us on our way back the way we’d come. Down the thrilling 30m shoulder, through the meadows of old trees, and on down to the flat plateau. The snow was hard-packed enough that we were able to cross-country skate along the flats with ease. It wasn’t until we finally made it to the end of the snow that I though to pull the camera out. Haidee was still mostly smiles, despite now contending with sasa bamboo grass sticking out of the snow.

Once the snow became too patchy, we threw the skis on our packs, and walked the remaining 1km back to the car.

It was a long and varied day, but despite the low altitude bush-bashing, it was a very worthwhile outing!

Comments | Queries | Reports

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

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