I was down from Nitonupuri at around 10:30am, so I made a quick getaway down the hill in the car to the Chisenupuri ski area car park. I managed to get into one of the last remaining spots on this busy blue-bird day weekend day. Had the carpark been full, I’d probably have parked up at the Yukichichibu Onsen carpark – I was planning to go there for a soak after Shakunage-dake after all.
The weather was only getting better. I headed for the Hokkaido Backcountry Club catskiing area base, and started up the public uptrack to the left of the ski area.
I’ve climbed this skin track at least five or six times now. It’s fairly fast and brain-dead. The white snow against a hopelessly blue sky was heart-wrenchingly beautiful though.
That bush though. Had this been a normal snow year, I wouldn’t have been having to weave so carefully through and around bush. This area had to be at least 2m shy of the normal base.
The blat up the side of the ski field took the normal 40 minutes. I followed along the summer trail marked on the map, directly up and onto the plateau. From here, I could see hordes of skiers climbing up Chisenupuri, zigzagging their way past tracked up slopes.
Where I was going, however, looked like it had one or two lone day-old tracks down the eastern face of it. No one was keen to make the extra 30 minute trek across the saddle to untracked snow, obviously. I was, however, following a skin track for most of the way across the plateau/saddle. Some skiers had obviously skied over this way to ski the slope above Naganuma Pond. I could see tracks on the slope, weaving their way through the still exposed bush. Another month and that slope would be in prime condition.
Up until the upper 20m or so of the Shakunage peak, the snow was soft, dry, and powdery. As soon as I made the final 10m or so to the summit, however, the wind was howling, and the soft snow had given way to wind-scoured ice.
I was foolishly slow in getting my outer wind-break layer on at the summit, so suffered on the descent. I also didn’t notice till I was at the bottom of the descent that my ski bases were iced up – no wonder the turns came so sluggishly. Looking back, I could see my hap-hazard line down the eastern side of Shakunage-dake. As a tesament to the strong wind at the summit, the upper 20m or so of my line were already being erased by the time I was at the bottom.
Next time, I’ll allow more time and ski the Naganuma Pond western slope – that looks to have much more of a vertical descent.
Once I was back at the plateau, with once again not a breath of wind, I sent the drone up for some aerial photography. What a perfect day for it.