Location: Otaki, Date/Shiraoi
Altitude: 1322m (~900m elevation gain)
Length: Half day+ (13km roundtrip)
Hiked on: Febuary 1st, 2016
This one’s been on my list for a while, I was hoping to climb it along with Tokushunbetsuyama in summer, but did not make it. The seasons have changed and I gave Horohoroyama another crack, this time on skis.
There are a few different routes you can take. This route begins at the “Hill with the Totem Poles,” which is a part of Sangaitaki Waterfalls park. Park your car next to the building at the back of the park where the snow has been cleared. The hike begins on the right side of the building where a small walking trail goes into the woods.
The hike follows the long, wide northwest ridge of Horohoroyama all the way to the top. The climb is gradual and rarely steep except for a couple small bits. The trees can be quite thick for the first little while, so if there are no previous tracks take care to stay on the top of the ridge.
Once you get through the various planted forests, the walk becomes much more beautiful and pleasant. Unlike the mountains in nearby areas, there are lots of conifer trees that the snow cakes on to and turns into “Snow Monsters,” that are not often seen in southwest Hokkaido.
At around the 1100m point, the ridge joins onto the broad north face. The forest turns into a broad field of snow-covered low-lying pines and birth, which can make it quite tricky to walk across (and even more difficult to ski down.) Start heading south at this point where you will eventually get to the narrow ridge to the summit of Horohoroyama. Winds can be fierce and the ridge is actually not as exposed as it looks and you will quickly be at the summit.
The first thing that will catch our eye at the summit will be the pointy peak of Tokushunbetsuyama, Horohoroyama’s little brother. To the south is the rounder summit of Oro-oro-yama (who came up with these names?) and the Pacific Ocean in the background. You can see the Shiraoi mountains to the east as well, and Shiribetsudake and the Rusutsu ski resort to the northwest. Unfortunately I was robbed views of the lakes Toya and Shikotsu, and Mount Yotei this time again.
For skiers, there are good lines going down the opposite side of the summit ridge, but be aware that it is a wind-loaded aspect and you will need to make your own decision whether it will slide or not. The easiest way back up will probably be to climb the south/southeast ridge back up to the summit. You can also keep walking over to Tokushunbetsudake or Orooroyama, which probably adds around 1.5~2 hours to the trip for each peak.
The way down is easy, best to just retrace your skin track and you’ll be back at your car without even having to take your skis off. Just be careful when skiing through all those planted Christmas trees.
Another worthy hike in this area. I think I am starting to run out, but I am sure there are more out there that I don’t yet know about.