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Ski touring in Hokkaido, Japan: Mount Yotei

Mount Yotei is an inactive volcano on the island of Hokkaido in Japan. With its cone-shaped summit, it is often compared to Mount Fuji, but is much less visited. Despite this, it is one of Japan's 100 best-known mountains. Ski tourers come here to enjoy the vast snow-covered slopes and spectacular panoramic views from the summit.

This summit is reserved for experienced ski tourers who are in very good physical shape to make it to the top, which represents a good 1,800m of positive vertical drop. But less experienced or less fit ski-tourers can do part of the ascent, for example to the tree line, and have an exceptional descent in the process. Here's an itinerary for ski touring on Mount Yotei.

Organise your ski touring holiday.

The base camp

Most ski tourers visiting Mount Yotei base themselves in the town of Niseko. There are regular flights to Sapporo airport, which is about a 2-hour drive from Niseko. Once there, you'll need to hire a car or take a bus to get to Niseko.

Ski touring equipment

Before setting off on a hike, it's important to make sure that all your equipment is in order. You need suitable ski touring equipment, including skins and climbing knives, as well as safety equipment such as an avalanche beacon, shovel, probe and an ABS® or Reactor® avalanche airbag. It's also important to check the weather and avalanche conditions before setting off, by consulting local forecasts or asking guides for advice.

Itineraries for ski touring on Mount Yotei.

The Mount Yotei itinerary

The hike to Mount Yotei usually starts early in the morning. The hike starts at the base of the mountain, near the town of Kutchan for a climb from the west, or near the town of Abuta-Gun for an easier ascent from the south.

It is advisable to set off early to avoid crowds and to ensure that the snow is in good condition for the climb. The hike to the summit can take around 6 hours, depending on weather conditions and skiers' skills.

The ascent of Mount Yotei begins with a steep slope up to the tree line. Once you reach this height, the slope becomes gentler and the views of the surrounding area are magnificent. There are landmarks along the way, such as a large ice arch that can be seen from the base of the mountain. As you approach the summit, the slope steepens again.

The last part of the ascent is often icy and can be difficult for less experienced ski tourers.

Summit and descent

The summit of Mount Yotei is a spectacular spot with a 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and the sea. After enjoying the view, it's time to prepare for the descent.

It's important to choose a slope that matches the skier's skill level. It's also important to be aware of the risk of avalanches and to choose a safe slope. The descent of Mount Yotei can take around 2 to 3 hours, depending on snow conditions.

Ski tourers who reach the summit of Mount Yotei are rewarded with exceptional powder runs. They are also treated to incredible views of the surrounding landscape.

The most extraordinary not to be missed

For those who still have some energy left after the 1,800m D+ ascent made on adventure terrain, and in often deep snow, it is possible to descend - and then ascend - a further 200m to tip over into the crater of Mount Yotei, and ski to the bottom of it. A unique and unforgettable experience!

What to do après-ski

Once back at the bottom of the mountain, you can return to your accommodation, or go to one of the many hot baths (onsens) to relax. Whether it's after a hard day's physical exertion or after seeing the sights, they're sure to do you good!

You can also head to the surrounding towns to continue your visit to new and incredible landscapes. Sapporo, just 2 hours from Niseko, is the island's capital and a great way to discover Japanese cities and local culture.

As a general rule, it is strongly recommended that you are accompanied by a mountain professional. This could be a ski instructor specialising in off-piste skiing or a mountain guide.

A number of organisations offer the services of such professionals, and organise ski trips to Lofoten, such as PowderWeGo. PowderWeGo is an agency specialising in off-piste skiing, heli-skiing, ski-sailing and ski touring. It can take you to the four corners of the world.

Find out how to get to Niseko in our article on "how to get to Niseko". It will give you an idea of the journey time, the costs involved and all the information you need to make the decision to go there!

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