Shakushidake; the smaller sister mountain

Hakuba Sanzan is the name of the three mountain complex of Hakuba valley; Yarigatake (2896m), Sakushidake (2812m) and Shiroumadake (2932m). Sakushidake being the smallest of the three is apparently often overlooked as an objective in winter. In winter, the three mountains are situated far enough away from ski resorts that they see little traffic. In summer, extensive walking tracks and hut infrastructure exists on the ridge tops that the mountains see a fair bit a traffic.

Hakuba Sanzan – the three mountains of Hakuba

But Sakushi was Nate and I’s objective for today, Saturday, 17 March 2018. There had been a few cm of new snow up high after the latest rain event and the strong winds during the storm had created variable wind slabs which made boot packing up the ridge sometimes difficult (and the skiing somewhat difficult too). Luckily, we had the occasional wind gust but mostly just light winds and sunshine all day.

Joel skinning up Sakushidake

We didn’t see anyone else up on the mountain, but we weren’t alone.

Kamoshika goat traversing his own mountain

We ended up boot packing / crampon’ing the majority of the upper section of the mountain.

Nate ridge walking
Joel cramping up towards the final pitch
Nate just before the final pitch

It took Nate and I about 7.5hrs to make the summit, at a casual pace, from the Obinata road parking spot.

‘Wait, let me just check, this is the summit right?’
Nate on the summit of Sakushidake

We decided to descend the south face of Sakushidake, snow conditions were variable, with occasional powder, wind slab, breakable crust and as we descended further, some nice corn snow and finally super-slush. Hard to win the quality snow jackpot on a 2000 vertical metre descent.

Our ascent route
Our descent Route
Our descent route

 

Joel descending off the summit
Nate snowboarding down the south face of Sakushidake
Nate snowboarding down the south face of Sakushidake
Nate snowboarding down the south face of Sakushidake
Nate snowboarding down the south face of Sakushidake
Joel survival skiing the breakable crust is the couloir mid-slope

We exited via a river valley that runs behind Obinata and connects in with the normal Happo north face exit road. It was filled in and easy travel. A good full day in the mountains.