Location: Sapporo/Chitose/Eniwa (Lake Shikotsu area)
Altitude: 1318m (~800m elevation gain)
Length: Half day+ (~12km roundtrip)
Hiked on: March 27th, 2016
Hidden behind its more eye-catching neighbour Eniwadake most of the time, Izari-dake is a surprisingly popular destination during winter and spring, due to its proximity to Sapporo. The mountain is accessed through Izari logging road (漁林道) which shoots off Route 453 that connects Lake Shikotsu and Sapporo, just before or after the road that turns off to Lake Okotanpe (closed in winter) depending on whether you’re coming from Sapporo or Shikotsu.
The first portion of the hike is just up the logging road which is quite obvious. At around the 2km point, you’ll see a sign on the left side saying that you’re 500m from the end of the road, and a smaller sign on the left side with the characters 漁岳 which indicates the point where you can get onto the ridge to your left. There should be plenty of tracks to follow on a weekend, but there is also frequent pink tape marking the route.
As you gain elevation there are a couple high points offering views of Eniwa dake across Lake Okotanpe below you. Continue following the ridge and eventually you’ll get to the col before the final climb to the summit with the giant mass of Izaridake right in front of you. The last bit is steep and you’ll most likely have to boot pack it. There’s a big cornice just below the summit that you have to go around and you’ll soon be on the broad summit.
From the top you get the classic view of Lake Okotanpe, Eniwadake, Lake Shikotsu, and Fuppushi and Tarumae. Youtei and the Niseko mountains can be seen towards the other side, and the mountains of Sapporo to the north. The main summit ridge extends north/south, going to Koizaridake with its steep cliff walls to the south and continuing onto Soranumadake to the north. There is also a peak just to the north of the summit that’s actually about 10 meters higher than where the summit sign is.
Coming down, retracing your steps doesn’t offer the best skiing, but is the surest way back. The eastern face offers some great lines but be careful not to drop in all the way to the bottom as the gully sides are very steep and you’ll eventually have to climb back up. Once you get back on the logging road, it’s a quick ski back to the trailhead.
To be really honest, I was a bit underwhelmed by this hike as it is quite popular and you’ll be sharing the trail with quite a few others. That being said the views are certainly fantastic and along with its proximity to Sapporo it’s not hard to understand its said popularity.