Stories, pictures and video from the mountains of Hokkaido

Hiking for the final turns of the season

Muine-yama. May 2014

View of Yotei-san from Muine

Although all the ski hills in Hokkaido have now been closed for a good few weeks, there’s still snow on the higher mountains. In some places more than enough snow for skiing. From my balcony on a clear day, I get a view of Muine-yama which is the far side of Sapporo and about 1,460m tall. The snow always sticks around on Muine well into the spring, so with a sunny weekend in the forecast, we decided to head out to Jozankei and hike with skis and snowboards for our final turns of the season.

The view of Muine-yama from my balcony

Leaving home with the sunrise at about 4am got us to the trailhead by 6 ish and gave us plenty of time to get up to the snowline and hopefully to the summit. We were pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t long before we reached the snow and I could get my skis on. Skinning is a far more efficient means of uphill travel than hiking with skis strapped to a pack.

Skis on and a quick and easy skin to the top

Dan and Mike making slightly slower progress but enjoying the views

We made quick progress up the ridgeline to the summit, enjoying the incredible views in every direction. Once we got to the top it was a quick Snickers before skis and boards were on for a few very pleasant runs on perfect spring corn snow.

Happy days

Mike heading down from the summit

Perfect spring corn

The large snowfield we had to play on

A little further down the snow was a bit more sun and wind affected, but we found a few great windlips and rollers that we shaped into a bit of lip for our last jump session of the year.

Mike going for spins

Staying cautious with safety grabs

After getting down below the snowline it was a bit of a hack through the bushes and bamboo to make our way back to the car, but totally worth it. A great bonus day of skiing and a nice way to end another amazing Hokkaido winter.

A view back towards our old friend Teine

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