Teshio-dake Hut Southeastern Slopes

天塩岳ヒュッテ周辺

Posted on Mar 5, 2020
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Posted on Mar 5, 2020

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34 0
Reading time: 6 min
4.5km

Distance

3 hours

Time

450m

Ascent

1030m

Highest point

5/10

Difficulty

Snow Icon | Hokkaido Wilds
Jan-Apr

Best season

NOTE: This ski touring route starts from the Teshiodake Hutte, accessed via a 9km (3-4hr) skin along a flat, snowed in road. You cannot drive to the hut in winter. See full details, including skin to the hut, on the main Teshio-dake Summit Route page.

Teshiodake Hütte (天塩岳ヒュッテ, 765m) sits at the entrance of the main summer hiking trails up Teshio-dake (天塩岳, 1558m) in northern Hokkaido. Immediately southeast of the hut is a veritable smorgasbord of terrain. Snow conditions will vary by season and by day, so experienced ski tourers will enjoy poring over maps and recent weather reports to scope out the best, easily accessible lines. The two, lappable downhill slopes shown here are simply two slopes we skied, with varying success in February 2020, a particularly low snow year. As such, a sense of cautious adventure is required here to make the most of the terrain.

We visited this route on Feb 02, 2020

Route Map

Need to know details

Location

Teshiodake Hutte (天塩岳ヒュッテ) is tucked in at the very upper reaches of the Teshio River, at the foot of Teshio-dake (天塩岳, 1558m), the highest peak on mainland northern Hokkaido. This route is a sampling of some of the short, lappable slopes southeast of the hut. The route starts and finishes at the hut, here.

General notes

For the experienced ski tourer, the terrain around Teshiodake Hutte gives plenty to pore over as one studies the map of the area. Generally, the challenge will not be finding a suitably angled slope to lap, but a slope with suitably spaced trees. Our pick of the two downhill sections in the route here is the southerly aspect one – the trees were nicely spaced, enough to allow enjoyable skiing. Given the low elevation of the lower foothills and ridges of Teshio-dake, this area is very suited to exploring when the weather otherwise doesn’t give an opportunity to get up higher into the alpine.

Hut

Teshio-dake Hütte (full details here)

The Teshiodake Hütte (天塩岳ヒュッテ) an imposing but comfortable hut at the Teshio-dake trailhead. This large two-story log-building hut is free to stay, it has no warden and can sleep 40. You need to take your own bedding, food and cooking equipment. There is a camping area with taps and a toilet immediately outside. In the summer the hut is accessible by car, but in winter, it is a 9km skin along a mostly flat road to get to the hut – a sled is recommended.

Route details

Starting from the hut, head southeast along the summer trail. After crossing the river for the second time, gain the spur on the looker’s left of the trail. The ridge here is tight with thin trees, and you may be wondering how on earth you might ski down through this – don’t worry, the downhill on this southerly aspect slope is further around, and has a mix of mid- to old-growth trees, well spaced apart. At around 1000m elevation on the ridge, rip skins and drop the fall line back to the summer trail. If you’d like to sample the northern aspect of this valley, then head up the summer trail to the junction with the Connecting Route (連絡コース), and head up the heavily wooded spur on the looker’s left. Once again, at around 1000m elevation on the ridge, rip skins and enjoy a slightly steeper ski back down to the summer trail. This side of the valley here requires a good base to cover the brush. We were there in February 2020, and being a very low snow year, we struggled a bit on this side – the southerly aspect slope was less bushy.

Route Timing
Up | 1.5hrs
Down | 0.5hrs

To fully enjoy exploring around here, plus a few extra laps, allow about 3 hours in total.

Transport

Public transport:

This route is not accessible by public transport.

By car: 

Teshiodake Hutte is not accessible by car in winter. There is good access to the ‘trailhead’ at the end of Ponteshio Lake, here, via the quaint little town of Aibetsu in the south. From Ponteshio Lake, it is a 9km flat skin along a snowed in road to the hut – allow 3-4 hours. Aibetsu town has an amazing soba restaurant, as well as a convenience store. There is no official parking or cleared parking areas at the end of the roadclearing at the end of Ponteshio Lake (here). Therefore, park well to the side of the road, and avoid parking in the snow clearer’s turn around spots (the two big snow-cleared ‘divots’ perpendicular to the road). Please leave a note on the dashboard indicating your intentions – we’ve heard of the police being called by concerned dam workers when our friends stayed at the hut for a couple of days.

Physical maps
Official Topo Map: Uennaizan (宇江内山) – map no. NK-54-7-1-3

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

In winter, this is an extraordinarily remote location. Skiers must be self-sufficient, experienced, and well prepared. Note that cell reception is very limited in the area, including around the hut. We recommend some sort of GPS messenger, such as the Garmin inReach for emergency communications. It therefore goes without saying that this is very much the backcountry – there is no patrol, no avalanche control.

Weather forecast

Windy.com weather forecast for Teshiodake Hutte Environs
Onsen nearby

The closest onsen to the trailhead is arguably the super local Kyowa Onsen (協和温泉location, 500yen). There’s no outdoor bath, but the retro indoor baths boast a couple of tubs, a sauna, and a cold pool. They’re open from 8am till 10pm, and also offer accommodation and a small restaurant.

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 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.

Photo Gallery

Show Full Route Notes Close Route Notes

Route Trip Notes

“Windy.com was right again,” I mused as I looked outside from the warm confines of the hut. It was snowing hard and we could hear the wind roaring through the trees high up on the ridges. Around the hut there didn’t seem to be much wind.

Being this our first time to Teshiodake Hut, we didn’t have too much beta on where to ski in the immediate vicinity. We had a few screenshots from a couple of friends, of map app screens showing some “OK lines”, but that was about it. Chris and Andy spent some time looking at the Japan government official topomaps, loaded onto Andy’s phone on the Gaia app (see other options on our overview post here).

The first slope we checked out was a southerly aspect slope that looked promising, dropping down to the reservoir above the hut, here. After an hour or so of climbing, we made it to the top of the ridge, ripped skins, and headed down the ridge to find a good spot to drop down.

We’d gone about 150m downhill when Chris uttered an expletive. “I left my gloves up the hill!” Exasperated, he stopped, put skins back on his skis, and made the trek back up the slope. Andy had already dropped down the other side of the ridge, so we radioed him to hold up for a bit. Katie and I dug in for the wait.

Chris arrived back in about 20 minutes, and we got under way again.

The slope looked OK on Google satellite. It looked OK on the topomap. The reality wasn’t what we’d been hoping for though. The trees were tight. The snow was crusty in places. Even in clearings, there was brush sticking up from the surface of the snow. This was not ideal.

We slunked back to the hut for lunch. The weather was getting more blustery, so it was hardly perfect for more laps.

Andy and Katie were keen to get back out after lunch to check out another prospective slope, this time a northerly aspect slope further up the valley that a friend of mine had pointed out from his last time in the area. “Enjoy the blizzard,” quipped Chris, as he settled in for a quiet afternoon off in the hut.

So Andy, Katie and I headed out once again after lunch into a strengthening storm.

At the top of the slope, we gazed down at a mess of exposed brush and twiggy trees. On a normal snow year, this slope probably would have been fantastic. But with at least 2 meters or so less snow this year, things were looking much more twiggy. We hurled ourselves down the slope anyway, this time at least enjoying crust-free skiing. Albeit a weave through the brush.

This was not enough to wipe the smiles off Andy and Katie’s faces though. We patted each other on the back for trying to make the most of an otherwise blustery afternoon. The next day was forecast for perfect weather, so we’d get out elevation tomorrow.

That night, we all spent a relaxing night in the hut. Blue cheese and crackers. Nice Japanese sakeNabe hotpot for dinner. Cards. An early night. Tough life 😉

The next day, we made it to the summit of Teshio-dake. This was a full day affair – here’s the report and route.

Day four at the hut was the day we were slated to ski back out to the car. Chris had a flight out of Asahikawa in the late afternoon. The plan was for me to catch a train back to Sapporo. Andy and Katie would continue their Hokkaido ski trip for another week. We figured we had time in the morning for one last reconnaissance mission southeast of the hut, to check out a slope we’d had our eyes on a for a while. It was south facing, which didn’t fill us with confidence. South-facing slopes the last few days had been sun baked, with breakable crust. But we’d had snow the previous day, so we hoped we’d be OK. Certainly, the slope looked very skiable, with nicely spaced trees. So off we went for one last blat.

We opted to access the slope from the ridge which started from the trail. Here, the young trees were dense.

As we climbed, however, we caught glimpses here and there of good-looking lines through the trees below. We resisted the urge to drop down too soon, climbing until we were sure we were above the large clearing we’d seen multiple times from the summer trail the last few days.

We ripped skins at around 1000m, and went for it. The snow was good. The slope was good. The trees were good. We’d finally hit gold.

“Let’s go for another lap!” insisted Katie. It was definitely good enough for another lap. But time was getting on. The skin up to the hut three days ago was long, slow, and flat. We weren’t expecting any sort of free-lunch glide back to the car. 

We wrenched ourselves away from the temptation of doing another lap, and headed back to the hut.

Back at the hut we set about cleaning up and putting the hut back to winter order.

We were all done by just after lunch. Now all that remained was the ski and sled back to the car. This was a skins-on affair. There was certainly not enough gradient on the road for a free-ride back to the car. Our skin track (and sled-track) had been well snowed in during the four days we spent at the hut, so we were mostly breaking train, with only a very slight firm surface underfoot in the places we could see where we’d previously skied.

We made OK time, arriving back to the car in just over 2 hours. We packed up, and headed straight for the closest onsen – Kyowa Onsen (協和温泉) just out of Aibetsu Town. It was a retro affair, but the soothing waters were bliss after four days of no washing. Following the onsen it was straight to the bustling metropolis of Asahikawa City. Andy and Katie dropped me off at the train station, where I headed back to Sapporo City. They later dropped Chris off at the airport to head back to Singapore. Katie and Andy would continue their Hokkaido skiing adventure, spending their time mostly in the northern Daisetsuzan Range.

An excellent hut trip, with an excellent crew.

As with each ski touring, cycle touring, and hiking route guide published on hokkaidowilds.org, should you choose to follow the information on this page, do so at your own risk. Prior to setting out check current local weather, conditions, and land/road/track closures. While traveling, obey all public and private land use restrictions and rules, carry proper safety and navigational equipment, and of course, follow leave-no-trace procedures. The information found herein is simply a planning resource to be used as a point of inspiration in conjunction with your own due-diligence. In spite of the fact that this information, associated GPS track (GPX, KML and maps), and all information was prepared under diligent research by the specified contributor and/or contributors, the accuracy of such and judgement of the author is not guaranteed. hokkaidowilds.org, its partners, associates, and contributors are in no way liable for personal injury, damage to personal property, or any other such situation that might happen to individuals following the information contained in this post.

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Comments | Queries | Reports

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

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