On Saturday, 24 March 2018, Nate, Luke Smith, Camille and I set off at 4:30am from the carpark at the Happo North bridge to ski a classic line in Hakuba, the east face and couloir of Hakuba Yarigatake (2903m). The hike up from the carpark to the summit is over 2000 vertical metres and took us about 8 hours to get to the summit.
The walk up the happo north exit road in the dark was uneventful and quiet under the stars and eventually alpenglow on the mountains.
We walked up valley that leads from Yarigatake and Shakushidake into the Happo north exit valley. Nate and I had recently skied out this valley from Shakushidake and knew that we could get through the valley quickly and in the freeze of the morning a relatively safe route. This is not the usual route for climbing the mountain, the usual route involves a bit more travel and up and down as you either travel up and over Shakushidake or around Obinata.
After the valley we got a good view of the mountain and saw that like a lot of lines in Japan, it looks much steeper from a distance than up close.
We hiked up to the lookers left of Yarigatake, which is the easiest approach, but we did have to negotiate quite a bit of old avalanche debris.
We walked up past Yari onsen, which is a great outdoor natural onsen in the summer but at the moment it’s completely buried. The only sign is the outflow of the pool had melted out the snow.
The ski down was a mix of all conditions from firm and edge able to almost powder skiing and everything in between.
Good day out in the mountains on a classic line in Hakuba.