Elevation: 829m (~400m elevation gain)
Length: Half-day+ (~8km roundtrip)
Hiked on: January 10th, 2017
With a rather curious name, even for a Hokkaido mountain (where the many peaks have Ainu-language names), Ichankoppe is a relatively modest mountain on the northern shore of Lake Shikotsu. While in summer it is not much of a destination compared to the neighbouring Eniwadake and Tarumae, a bit of snow and it becomes a fairly interesting hike (like most mountains in this area of Hokkaido.)
The trailhead is just next to Horobinai Viewpoint on Route 453, just pas the Eniwadake trailhead when heading towards Sapporo from Shikotsu. Park your car at the viewpoint and cross the street you’ll see the trailhead just where the road bends at an ungodly angle. You’ll most likely find plenty of tracks going up the ridge, follow the tracks (and pink tape).
You’ll eventually want to start traversing along to the right (look for the col between the ridge you are on and the one on the other side of the big valley to your right) and get onto the main ridgeline that leads to the summit. Don’t blindly follow tracks to your left as you’ll eventually end up on another mountain on your left side.
One on the main ridge going is pretty easy, although there are a couple smaller peaks along the way which makes it more work that it should be. Either wrap around those (preferably to the left side, as the right side, same side as the lake, is quite steep) but be careful as the ridge sides are quite steep at times.
After the two small peaks there is a big climb that takes you out of the tree line and fantastic views of Lake Shikotsu and the surrounding mountains open up. It’s a beautiful walk but probably miserable in bad weather. There are some more ups and downs before one last climb up to the summit.
If you go early enough you will see the actual summit sign, otherwise you can just estimate where the top is. I think the actual highest point is in the trees to the north so probably better to bask in your glory in the slightly lower open space. The view of Monbetsudake to the southeast is the most eye-catching, but the views in general are fantastic and on a clear day you should be able to see pretty far out to the other side of the Ishikari plains to the north.
Coming down.. The south side of the main ridge is extremely tasty looking, however you will want to refrain from going too far down unless you are prepared to climb back up. It’s also wind-loaded steep avalanche terrain, so probably don’t want to be testing you luck. Regardless of whether you drop the ridge or just follow it back down, you will need to put your skin back on. Once you get under the treeline again (just before the two smaller peaks lower down) you can traverse all the way around and into the big valley that was on your right when you were first climbing up, however it’s not the most avalanche safe move, so I would recommend just walking back the way you came.