Updated: Sep 16, 2020
Japan is not known for their late season snow but even during the lowest snow year in 50 years, Andrea & I enjoyed some fantastic touring with blue skies and deep snow in late March.
A short 45 minutes drive from Yukari Cabins in Furano is Mt Tokachi, where it is possible to park at an altitude of almost 1000m and enjoy numerous touring routes on Tokachi and the surrounding peaks. Mt Tokachi is an active volcano with some impressive fumeroles pumping out steam and sulphurous smoke. Due to it being a low snow year and high winds, this route, although still rideable, had no powder snow. So on this occasion we parked at a smaller parking area to tour a route on Mt Furano.
A short boot pack from the van brings you to a stream to navigate, after which you can strap on your snowshoes, splitboard or skis. The trail then takes you into a beautiful mixed woodland which luckily for us was blanketed in deep, fluffy powder snow. After an hour or so of easy skinning through the forest, one hits the tree-line.
From the top of the tree-line it is just 30 minutes up to the first summit and our objective, this section is a little steeper and is prone to wind stripping, sweat on!!!
Super excited by what lay below us and the bright sunshine, we strapped in and got ready to enjoy a blank canvas of Japanese powder. Although the ridges were very wind effected, once we dropped in, the snow was unbelievably light for so late in the season.
Dropping into one of the couloir like ridges, we found a beautiful and playful zone full of great snow and sparse trees. Smiles all round!!!!
One of the best things about touring in this area is being able to take a soak in a natural Onsen (hot spring) when your legs can take no more. Just a 5 minute drive away is Fukiage Onsen which is maintained, cleaned and cleared of snow, other than that it is completely wild and very hot. The onsen is mixed and men usually go in the nude however trunks and swimming costumes are permitted. There are no changing rooms, so we normally leave our clothes in a pile on a gore-tex jacket in the snow. It is an experience not to be missed. If the lack of facilities puts you off, don't worry as there are a couple of luxurious indoor/outdoor onsens just around the corner
If you are interested in experiencing this during your stay in Furano, we always recommend hiring a guide. Check out www.whiteroomtours.com. Their experienced guides will be able to show you all the best spots. If you are staying at Yukari Cabins, you can take advantage of our free demo boards and splitboards from Korua Shapes.
This is just one of a huge number of easily accessible skitouring and splitboarding routes available within 1.5 hours drive from Yukari Cabins. Enjoy a day in the mountains and come home to your cosy self catering, forest cabin.