Location: Niki, Yoichi-gun (Shiribeshi)
Type: Backcountry skiing
Altitude: 565m (400m elevation gain)
Length: Half-day (5km roundtrip)
Hiked on: January 14th 2015
Located just behind Ginzan Station on the Hakodate Line (halfway between Otaru and Kutchan), this little peak is probably the most easily accessed winter hike in the area, although it’s a bit out of the way for most people. You can literally put your skis on the platform and skin right up to the top, which is what I did. Go off the platform to the north (Otaru side) and walk along the tracks for 20~30 meters and then pop onto the ridge on the left side. Walking perpendicular to the tracks, you’ll eventually hit a logging road going up back towards the direction you can from. Follow the logging road up a T shaped ridge for 15 to 20 minutes. Eventually you’ll hit a 3 way junction, with the logging road going up to the left and down to the right. Get off the logging road there and onto the broad ridge in front of you. From there you can keep traveling up the ridge down a path that’s comfortable for you. You should pass by some power lines, but you don’t want to be following them. Eventually you hit a big open space with few trees, perfect for some powder turns. This bit can get a bit steep but not to hard to switchback up on your skins. The summit is another broad open area and you’ll get views down to Yotei and the Niseko range, and out to Yoichi and the Sea of Japan to the north. There are some super steep faces if you travel down the ridge from the summit to the southeast for a bit, but look out for avvys as well as getting stuck in the gully too low. Once you hit the power lines, it’s a good idea to try to get back onto the ridge that you can up initially. As long as you follow your tracks back from that point, you should be able to ski right back onto the train tracks, just be careful not to get hit by one, although you only get maybe one train an hour at this station. While this is probably as easy as a backcoutry ski route can get, you should still know what you’re doing and have the right equipment. Also this area gets a LOT of snow, so probably best to attempt during a stretch or good weather or sometime in early spring.