Ginzan 銀山

Location: Niki, Yoichi-gun
Altitude: 641m (~550m elevation gain)
Length: Half day (6km roundtrip)
Hiked on: March 3rd, 2016

Located next to Inahomine, Ginzan is another low altitude mountain that can be hiked quickly and offers some great skiing. The hike begins at the snow clearing endpoint on a road just off Route 1022 (exact point can be found here.) There is space for a few cars at the end, again best to park in a way where you can get out if more cars arrive and where other cars can park/get out as well.

From the parking spot, keep following the road towards the mountains (west) until the road bends and runs parallel to the mountain range on your left for a while. Walk around 50 metres along this road then cut left and gain the large ridge going up. It can be a bit confusing which ridge to take exactly, but they will all eventually join in and take you to the top.

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You’ll first pass by some power lines, then across a logging road. After climbing up the ridge for a bit you’ll get to a wide flat section with the summit visible through the trees ahead of you slightly to the right. The summit has a giant reflective panel and is very easily identifiable. Despite not looking very prominent from the side you climb up from, Ginzan provides great views with Youtei and the Niseko range to the south, the sea of Japan and the Shakotan peninsula to the west, and the town of Ginzan and out to Yoichi bay to the north.

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There are many possibilities for the ski down. It’s probably a good idea to stick to the same ridge you climbed up, but if you are looking for a steep albeit short run, ride down the ridge past the flat section and drop into the gully on skier’s right. Take care not to go all the way to the bottom, and you’ll eventually be able to traverse back onto the top of the ridge. Early in the season the small gullies that run down the sides of the ridge may not be filled in and it may be impossible to traverse, so probably best to play it safe if not sure.

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The one section you may want to avoid is the corniced slope just off the summit to the north. Having worked in Ginzan, I could often see natural avalanches down that face and some huge nasty cracks form even as early as January and February.

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