Location: Niki-cho, Yoichi-gun
Elevation: 725m (600m elevation gain)
Length: Half-day (8km roundtrip)
Hiked on: January 26th, 2016
Located in the town of Niki (population 3,400), Mt. Daikoku is one of the rare mountains where you get a pretty decent reward for relatively little work. The hike begins at the end of a small local road off the “Fruit Highway” connecting Niki and Otaru where there is space for a few cars (the cleared space on the left is private property, so you need to park on the right side of the clearing.)
The approach is relatively simple, with one major gully going into the moutains with 2-3 ridges you can choose to climb up. There were clear tracks when I climbed but without tracks it may be easy to get lost as there is no single clear route. As long as you stay well to the right of the main creek though you should be okay.
Once you pop onto a ridge, it’s a fairly quick climb up until you’re at the top of the main ridgeline. There is a false summit just before the peak that you can traverse around. The top ridge can be quite windy with cornices forming to the left (northeast). They were not too big when I climbed but probably best to stay well clear of them to the right.
The summit is treed and the summit sign (posted on a tree) can be easy to miss. Unfortunately I couldn’t see much when I went up but you are supposed to get views of all the major peaks in the area (Yotei, Yoichidake, Shakotandake, etc) and a grew view of the Akaigawa Caldera and the Yoichi/Niki valley.
Dropping in anywhere to the north side will take you back down to the gully you hiked up, but the terrain is steep so best to check stability before going down and stick one of the ridges. Either way, you get a good 400m of uninterrupted steep skiing, not bad for just a couple hours of hiking. Take care not to go all the way down to the creek, or you’ll have to climb back up to the skin track. If you stay high you can ski all the way back out to the car without re-skinning.
The bang for the buck for this hike is quite good. Yes, the ski down is still less than 5 minutes but the terrain is steep and open at the top with just the right amount of trees at the bottom, and has lots of features like pillows and small drops. Definitely a little gem in a mostly neglected part of Hokkaido.
*As always this is not meant to be a detailed route description/guide of any sort, please only refer to it as a starting point for further research and make sure you know what you are doing before attempting to climb.