Posted on Apr 11, 2019
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11 0
S
Posted on Apr 11, 2019
Share on facebook
Share on reddit
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11 0
S
7.2km

Distance

3 hours

Time

374m

Ascent

444m

Highest point

3/10
Difficulty
Snow Icon | Hokkaido Wilds
Mar-Apr

Best season

Pon-yama (ポン山, 444m) is the prominent hump behind the Oshidomari township, where the ferry gets into Rishiri Island from Wakkanai City. From its southern slopes, climbers get front-row seats to awesome views of Rishiri-zan. This is a very straight forward route, following the road from the onsen to the campground, and then wrapping around the back of Pon-yama to ascend via a nice sheltered treeless slope. From the summit, expect great views of Rishiri-zan to the south, and the Japan sea to the north. This is a great route for beginners, or for anyone keen for a ski (or snowshoe) when the weather's not suitable for skiing Rishiri-zan.

We visited this route on Mar 18, 2019

Last updated Apr 2, 2021

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

This winter route up Pon-yama starts from the Rishiri-fuji Onsen (here) in the Oshidomari Township on the northern side of Rishiri Island. Rishiri Island is west off the coast of Wakkanai City at the northern tip of Hokkaido.

General notes

We actually did this little peak on our way back from a summit attempt on Rishiri-zan (route here). The wind was ferocious up on Rishiri-zan, but perfectly acceptable down on Pon-yama. Pon in Ainu means ‘small’, and there are a few Pon-yamas on Rishiri Island. However, this Pon-yama in Oshidomari is the only one without a qualifying placename. The others all take a place-name prefix (such as Oniwakipon-yama etc). I guess that might be because of all the Pon-yamas on the island, this Pon-yama is the highest at 444m.

Some guideboooks indicate it is possible to ski down from the summit to the north, directly towards Oshidomari township. From the summit, however, the trees looked fairly dense, so we opted to ski down the way we’d come up. The open ski-slope was nice for a few fun turns, facing Rishiri-zan.

Hut
Rishiri Green Hill Inn Hostel (full details here)

The Rishiri Green Hill Inn Hostel (利尻ぐりーんひるinn) is a skier’s dream come true on Rishiri Island. With epic, unobstructed views of Rishiri-zan, ski-in and ski-out access to the mountain, easy access to stores for self-catering, a beautiful wood stove in the common dining area, plus the cheapest per-night cost on the island in winter, it is the best wallet-friendly base (besides free-camping in the snow near the onsen) for self-guided exploration of Rishiri Island in most seasons. Officially, the hostel is closed during the deep-winter months between November and February, but the hostel is open to inquiries during the ‘off’ season also.

Route details

This route is sporadically marked with signposts (in Japanese). However these may be buried depending on snowfall. Best to assume you’ll be navigating on your own.

Route Timing
Up | 2hrs
Down | 1hrs

Expect about 2 hours from the onsen to the summit, and another 1 hour back down. In April, it may be possible to drive all the way to the Hokuroku Campground, thus saving almost an hour on the ascent.

Transport

Public transport:

There are daily ferries to Rishiri Island, leaving Wakkanai ferry port (location) at 6:55am and 1:55pm between January and April (see timetable here). Tickets cost 2,500yen each way. There is no extra charge for skis/snowboards. To get to Wakkanai, either take a highway bus or the train, with service from centers such as Sapporo and Asahikawa. Once in Rishiri, it is a 1.5km walk from the ferry terminal to the start of the route (route here). Guests staying at the Rishiri Green Hill Inn Hostel can make use of the free hostel shuttle between the hostel and the onsen.

By car:

There is plenty of parking at the Rishiri Onsen (here). If visiting in April, it may be possible to drive all the way to the Hokuroku campground here.

Physical maps
  • Hokkaido Wilds full Rishiri Island Topomap PDF (A3, 1:25000 scale, 6 sheets) – download (67Mb)
  • Hokkaido Wilds full Rishiri Island Topomap PDF (A0, 1:25000 scale, 1 sheet, 841mm x 900mm) – download (40Mb)
Official Topo Map: Oshidomari (鴛泊) – map no. NL-54-17-13-2

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 South. 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

As mentioned above, this route is not marked, so there may be some route-finding required beyond the Hokuroku Campground at the end of the road. Make sure to bring a map/compass and/or a GPS device.

Rishiri Pon-yama Ski Tour Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

C

30

Time ascending

D

0

Technicality

Altitude

D

0

Hazards

D

0

Navigation

D

0

Totals

30/100

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 Rishiri Pon-yama
Onsen nearby

The Rishiri-fuji Onsen (利尻富士温泉保養施設, 500yen, location) is at the end of the route described on this page, so that makes the most sense for a post-ski soak. Note that in winter (November till April) it is open from noon till 9pm, and is not open on Mondays.

Extra Resources
No extra English resources that we know of. If you know of any, please let us know in the comments.

Guide Options

If you’d like to ski this route and/or explore the rest of Rishiri together with a local certified guide, get in touch with Toshiya Watanabe here. He is the only certified guide based on Rishiri island. And his videos of skiing on the island are epic. If Toshiya is booked out, then contact Takao Miyashita – he offers northern Hokkaido ski trips, as well as Rishiri expert-only and upper-advanced climbing trips. 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

We’d been turned back on Rishiri-zan, so we had some unplanned time to work with on the way back to the hostel. So we made the quick detour up to Pon-yama. It was a relatively straight forward detour. A few gullies to cross, but nothing too challenging. On the descent, wrapping around the base of Pon-yama to join up with the campground access road, however, was a little more challenging. We dropped all the way down to the stream crossing around here, so had to side-step back up to the campground carpark.

From there it was a quick blat down the snowed-in road to the onsen.

Comments | Queries | Reports

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

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Rishiri Pon-yama Ski Tour Difficulty Rating

Category

Grade

Points

Strenuousness

Vertical Gain

C

30

Time ascending

D

0

Technicality

Altitude

D

0

Hazards

D

0

Navigation

D

0

Totals

30/100

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.