Location: Shari, Shari-gun
Elevation: 1545m (~1000m elevation gain)
Length: Full-day+ (~17km roundtrip)
Hiked on: April 11th, 2017
As one of the 9 Hyakumeizan in Hokkaido, Mount Shari is a well climbed peak despite its remote location however not many climb it in the winter months. The main winter route starts on the opposite side of the summer route at Konpoku Toge (mountain pass) which connects the town of Shari in the Ohotsk/Abashiri region and the town of Shibetsu on the Pacific/Nemuro side.
There is plenty of parking right at the top of the mountain pass, although I can’t vouch for conditions in mid winter. Hop onto the snowbank to the west side of the road and start the long walk towards Shari. The initial bit takes you through a vast, flat forest with not much to distinguish where you are going so you’ll want to look at your compass/map to ensure you’re heading the right direction.
The terrain slowly narrows to a ridge which you can follow all the way to the top of Higashi-Shari and eventually onto Sharidake, however it’s likely easier to drop into the big valley just to the south of the ridge at around 750m elevation. Once you’re in the valley it’s a long, gradual climb which will take you to a col at 1376m. The valley splits into smaller gullies so keep your eyes on the map to ensure you don’t end up going up the wrong way.
From the top of the col you’ll be able to see the other large valley on the west side of the mountain, which the summer trail with its several waterfalls and creek crossings comes up. You’ll also likely be hit with a wall of wind at this point. You can either climb over the subpeak just to the north of the col or traverse the slope to its left if the conditions allow. It’s not too steep of a slope however best to put on your crampons at this point if you haven’t already or avoid it altogether if the conditions are super icy.
Once you are on the other side it’s one final climb to the last sub-peak before the summit. Unfortunately the winds got to a point where I couldn’t stand up straight and I had to turn around at this point, with only another 100m of elevation gain left to the go. This portion is probably the steepest bit however it shouldn’t cause too much trouble as long as you have proper equipment.
On the way down you can follow the valley all the way back and then walk back up to the broad ridge. You’ll again want to keep your eyes on the map to ensure you don’t end up far away from the parking lot.
While this looks like a very big hike on paper, it actually wasn’t too bad as it’s never too steep and the return trip is quite easy if you’re on skis. Until at least late April you can expect the valley to be covered all the way as well, which makes the trip a lot easier than if you would have to navigate through bits of the creek showing through the snow.
If you are planning on doing Shari, I would definitely recommend doing it in summer first, as the kyudo route is quite the experience. However, there is no doubt that Shari is one of the most striking peaks in Hokkaido in the winter months.