Posted on Mar 19, 2017
41 0

Posted on Mar 19, 2017
41 0
Reading time: 3 min
16km

Distance

5 hours

Time

1060m

Ascent

1255m

Highest point

7/10

Difficulty

Snow Icon | Hokkaido Wilds
Mar-May

Best season

Shakotan Hut provides an excellent base from which to explore peaks such as Mt. Shakotan-dake (積丹岳 – 1,255m) or Mt. Yobetsu (余別岳 – 1,298m) on the Shakotan Peninsula. About 40 minutes from the end of the snow-cleared section of dirt road, this is a public-transport accessible hut, free to use for overnight stays. As far as Hokkaido mountain huts go, it is a luxurious one – running spring water, a kerosene stove, and a large tatami living area. We stayed overnight there for a blue-sky ascent of Mt. Shakotan.

Last updated Oct 24, 2018

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

This route starts not too far from the tip of Shakotan Peninsula (here), about 80km northwest of Sapporo City, past Otaru City.

General notes

Most often, Mt. Shakotan is skied in spring when the rough weather of the Shaoktan Peninsula’s deep winter has died down – you can happily ski this mountain well into May. Note that there’s no reason why you can’t make this a day-trip. I’ve done so in the past (report here). But if you’re in the area and you want to do a couple of ski touring routes on consecutive days, then the Shakotan Hut, just 40 minutes from the trailhead, is a very nice place to stay overnight.

  • Other attractions: The historic Nikka Whiskey Yoichi Distillery (location) is on the way back to Sapporo (near the Yoichi JR Train Station), and they offer free tastings. Very much worth a visit!
Hut

Shakotan Hut (full details here)

Shakotan Hut provides an excellent base from which to explore peaks such as Mt. Shakotan-dake (積丹岳 – 1,255m) or Mt. Yobetsu (余別岳 – 1,298m) on the Shakotan Peninsula. You can drive there in summer, and in winter, it’s about 40 minutes from the end of the snow-cleared section of dirt road. Shakotan Hut is a public-transport accessible hut, free to use for overnight stays. As far as Hokkaido mountain huts go, it is a luxurious one – running spring water, a kerosene stove, and a large tatami living area.

Route markers

There are no route markers.

Route Timing

Up | 3.5hrs
Down | 1hrs

About 40 minutes from trailhead to hut, then 3 hours from hut to summit. Bank on just over an hour for the descent.

Transport

Public transport:

You’ll want to catch the Number 21 bus from Yoichi JR Station, bound for Cape Kamuisaki, and get off at the bus stop called tozan-guchi (登山口) which is stop number 52 (counting from Otaru Station). Bus stop location is around 43.308076, 140.553185, and will likely take around an hour from Yoichi Station. Check at tourist info at Sapporo Station before you head off for season timetable information.

By car: 

There is a small area to park cars just before the forestry road starts here. Later in the season, it is sometimes possible to drive almost all the way to Shakotan Hut, but don’t bank on it. Respect roped-off roads.

Physical maps

Official Topo Map: Yobetsu (余別) – map no. NK-54-20-9-1
Official Topo Map 2: Mikuni (美国) – map no. NK-54-20-5-3

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).

Snow and route safety

When I mentioned to Mr. Hirata, the hutkeeper of Ginreiso Hut, that I was planning on going to Mt. Shakotan, he said I would die. I’d been there before, and didn’t die, but I can see where he is coming from – Mt. Shakotan is often buffeted by howling winds direct from the Japan Sea, so you’ll need to choose your weather window wisely. The Yuki-yama Guide (ISBN: 978-4894538047) suggests leaving this area alone in mid-winter, and waiting till mid-March for more stable weather.

  • Notify the police of your backcountry plans online using Compass – instructions here.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Mt. Shakotan

Onsen nearby

Shakotan Onsen (location), 10km further around the cape, has as amazing outdoor bath area with expansive views across the ocean. On the way back to Sapporo, there’s the small but cheerful Furubira Onsen (location), which is nice, but the ocean-view outdoor bath is only open from the end of April.

Extra Resources
  • See the write-up (in Japanese) from p. 242 of the Yuki-yama Guide (ISBN: 978-4894538047).
  • Also see an earlier route report here.

Photo Gallery

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

“Enjoy a massive 1,100m ski descent on Mt. Shakotan which, along with Mt. Yobetsu, is a big boss of the Shakotan Peninsula. There’s a hiking trail on Mt. Shakotan, so people also climb it in summer. In mid-winter, owing to the fact that it is right next to the Japan Sea, it is an extremely difficult climb with its fierce blizzards. People generally climb Mt. Shakotan in the spring once the weather has become more stable. With gentle slopes and large open aspects higher up, it is perfect for enjoying spring skiing.” Yuki-yama Guide, 2015, p. 186

Mt. Shakotan can easily be accessed and climbed as a day-trip from Sapporo City, as I’ve done before. But, making the most of the excellent Shakotan Hut, three of us from Sapporo climbed Mt. Mekunnai on Saturday (report here), and then made the 2hr drive to the Mt. Shakotan trailhead so that we could stay at the hut and climb Mt. Shakotan on Sunday.

I had told Andy and Hiro that it would be an easy skin up an uncleared forestry road to the hut. Indeed, this is the route marked in the Yuki-yama Guide and was the route I’d done a few years back. With this in mind, I figured it would be perfectly OK to arrive at the trailhead relatively late, potentially getting to the hut after dark. Hiro had the right idea based on that information – he had prepared a sled to haul his gear up to the hut along the snow-bound road.

The reality was somewhat different, with the forestry road cleared of at least 1m of snow, right down to the gravel. It would be impossible to ski on it, so we were forced to follow a route along the west of the snaking forestry road, at times having to gingerly clamber over debris from the road-clearing.

With daylight fading fast – we had set off from the trailhead at 5:30pm – it would end up taking us about 1hr 15mins to get to the hut after abandoning Hiro’s sled soon after setting off, and taking turns carrying the now unwieldy extra luggage. It was a comfort having the GPS track, overlaid on the Japan official topographical maps using the Geographica App (iPhone | Android) on Andy’s phone, so that we at least knew we were headed in the right direction, and had a map location of the hut (other apps for displaying official Japanese topographical maps here).

It was sweet relief to arrive at the hut at almost 7pm. We quickly got the stove running (English PDF instructions here), and settled in for a relaxing remaining evening. On the menu was a Hokkaido classic – Genghis Khan.

The delightfully quiet hut allowed us to sleep in till 6am – one of the best sleeps I’ve had in a mountain hut. 

After a large breakfast of crepes we left our large packs in the hut and set off towards the summit of Mt. Shakotan. Before long, we were all in our t-shirts – it was well and truly spring weather.

The upper ridge was a fickle beast, rising up to false summits and giving us peeks here and there of the scenery on the other side. The summit finally yielded and gave us expansive views over Mt. Yobetsu, the Japan Sea coast, and back towards Mt. Yotei and the Niseko Range, where we had been just a day ago.

The way down got properly interesting only once we’d clattered our way down to around 970m across sastrugi-like wind-blown snow. From there, it was glorious tree skiing on even, consistent spring snow.

Once back at the hut we packed up, signed the guestbook…And braved the tightly-treed traverse-descent along side the cleared gravel road.

Back at the cars, a group of snowboarders, some with their snowboards attached sideways on their packs, some pulling sleds full of gear and food, were just heading off. 10 minutes later, just as we were pulling away, we noticed them returning to their van…I can only imagine that they must have been re-considering their strategy for getting their gear to the hut.

Seeing as Andy is a bit of a whiskey fan, we dropped in at the Nikka whiskey distillery on the way back to Sapporo. This historic distillery has free tastings…alas Hiro and I were driving, so had to enjoy watching Andy enjoying the offerings.

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Comments | Queries | Reports

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

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