Hiuchi; Hi, you, want some Chi?

On 20th March 2018, Nate and I set off from Hakuba to ski Mount Hiuchi. Hiuchu (2462m) is nestled next to Yakeyama volcano, a volcano that I skied with Robert Lindberg a few weeks ago. Hiuchi is also classified as an ultra prominent peak, meaning that it’s relief above the surrounding area is more than 1500 vertical metres, one of just 21 other ultra peaks in Japan.

Nate and I arrived at Sasakura onsen at 5:15am in the dark and the rain, but slept out the worst of the wet weather in the car before starting hiking at 6:30am.

Joel starting the hike from Sasakura Onsen

As we ascended up into the clouds, the visibility greatly reduced.

Zero vis hiking and skiing in the cloud line
Joel hiking with a cordelette whip to help travel in the valley cloud

But we finally broke out above the thick valley cloud and into area below the broken upper-elevation cloud masses.

Joel hiking up towards Hiuchi, thankfully above the valley clouds
Nate in the sunshine with Yakeyama volcano smoking behind
Joel hiking towards the summit of Hiuchi
Nate on the summit, sea of clouds below

Our objective for skiing Hiuchi was to ski one of the north-facing couloirs leading from the summit of Hiuchi

Hiuchi north face taken from Yakeyama
Hiuchi north face with our line drawn in

The ski down had surprisingly good snow, with the upper section being about 10cm of new snow on top of ice and then from the entrance of the couloir, the new snow was on top of a wet-base.

Joel skiing the upper face
Nate snowboarding the upper face
Nate snowboarding with the valley cloud below
Nate wall-riding on the couloir, Yakeyama behind
Nate pow-slashing
Joel in the couloir with Yakeyama behind

We had a good day out in better weather and snow than we thought we would get and a decent walk to get there too.