Location: Kyowa, Iwanai-gun
Elevation: 944m (~800m elevation gain)
Length: Half day+ (~10km round trip)
Hiked on: March 31st, 2017
There are 3 different routes, which all start from the town of Kyowa just to the north of the Niseko Range. This post describes the Yachinai logging road route. To get to the trailhead, drive on route 269/818 which connects Kyowa and Tomari and then turn right just before Hokushin elementary school. Keep following that road towards the mountains and eventually you’ll get to the start of Yachinai logging road.
You’ll be walking up the logging road for the first hour or two. There is one section where the road splits into three, just keep going down the middle route without turning. After a little while you’ll get to a section where there is a small dam to your right; keeping following the road which will take you around to the left a bit. When I hiked there was taping on the trees from around this point which marks the “correct” route that will take you up to the large ridge on your left, however it’s also possible to take the smaller ridge in the middle where the creek forks into two (~200m elevation).
The ridge is steep, narrow, and full of trees and is tough walking and skiing down. Eventually the trees will begin thinning out and you’ll get a good view of the main ridgeline to the summit in front of you.
Once you get to the main ridge turn right and head towards the summit. The ridgeline is extremely exposed and heavily corniced and probably not a great place to be in bad weather. Of course that means fantastic views and some excellent ridge walking that makes it hard to believe you’re under 1000m above sea level.
The broad summit has no marker (as usual for lower elevation peaks in the area). You can continue on along the ridgeline to Rubeshibeyama and down to Inaho Pass (or conversely reach the peak from there) which would make for a nice traverse.
Going down there are some very tempting open faces however the valleys run deep and narrow and you probably want to stick to the ridges especially once the snow starts melting in spring.
While the numbers may be modest Yachinaidake is a fairly tough hike and best kept for those used to long walks and steep climbs. Also there were bear paw prints everywhere when I climbed so be on the look out in spring.