Ice Climbing trips – Japan

Rise to the frozen challenges in the Pacific Ocean and discover the world of ice climbing Japan!

From Hokkaido and its long winter in the north to the iconic objectives on the main island of Honshu, Japan has a bevy of icy destinations to climb. With mountains like Akadake in the Yatsugatake and the frozen waterfalls of the Daisetsuzan, this country has plenty of reasons to grab your ice axe and head to the Pacific.

 

 

Top Ice Climbing Trips in Japan

 

 

 

 

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Japan is an island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, comprised of four large islands and many smaller ones – more than 6,850 in total throughout the archipelago. Its wide geographic range lends to a diverse climate, which means ice climbing can be found in a few different locations. In the northern island of Hokkaido, the long and cold winters provide perfect conditions for an ideal climb, while high-altitude spots on Honshu, the main island, also have great ice ascents. The main cities of the country are connected with trains, and even traveling between islands can be done with public transportation. Tokyo is the capital of the country, located on Honshu, and it provides a nice starting off point for trips to the Japanese Alps. To head north, take a train through the Seikan Tunnel or fly into Sapporo and you will be in the heart of Hokkaido.

 

 

Good to Know

 

Weather

The weather in Japan tends to be nice and cold throughout winter. It can be volatile at high altitudes, but the climate provides a high snow fall and low temperatures to keep the ice flowing and frozen throughout the season.

Language

Japanese

Currency

Yen (JPY)

How to Get There

Getting to Japan requires flying into one of its islands. For the island of Honshu, Tokyo is the best choice. The Shinkansen and the train network can easily get you where you need to go. For trips to Hokkaido, the New Chitose Airport serves the Sapporo hub, and the northern island also has efficient bullet trains and public transportation. Rental cars are readily available at most major cities.

Country Code

+81

Best Time to Visit

Ice climbing is best done in winter. January and February are the perfect months to take on the frozen walls of Japan, though early and late trips in winter can provide great conditions, too.

 

 
 

 

What People Say

  • 18 reviews

 

It was a really good day out! Cvetko Podlogar is a good guide with spot on instructions … Highly recommend his services

We had a wonderful time ice climbing despite some rather crazy weather conditions! Takao was great company, very clearly experienced in the area and equipped with all necessary equipment. He was always on time and made exceptional efforts to get us out to the ice and back safely to Sapporo. The onsen, river crossing and thigh-high snow trek were as important as the actual climbing to the whole experience. We highly recommend and hope to be back to the area for summer climbing!

Perfect trip. Perfect guide. Nice mountain

A good climb although weather wasn’t good and couldn’t see much at the summit.

Takao is very professional. I enjoy climbing with him very much. Also, the waterfall at 2nd day leave a good memories for me. If I climb in Japan again, I will find him again.

Excellent guide for a very dangerous mountain! In Hiroko’s hands she guided me across challenging terrain. I highly recommend this winter hike as she will teach you the basics of winter mountaineering. The mountain is quite steep. For beginner mountaineers, this is the perfect trial ground.

Hiroko was polite friendly and extremely helpful. She dropped me off at an onsen after the hike and then dropped me off at the train station.

Awesome! Couldn’t have asked for a better guide or a better two day activity. Cheers Cveto and Chibow!

Hiro was fantastic from start to finish. She introduced me to winter techniques and was brilliant company all the way to the peak. She is a true pro. It was an epic day on Tanigawa that will live long in the memory!

I started ice climbing in Colorado and wanted to experience climbing in a different country.  If I had come during the summer I definitely would have rock climbed or taken a guided climbing trip.

I have a fair amount of climbing experience, but nothing too in-depth.  Takao-san took that into consideration for the routes we did.

Takao-san obviously has a lot of experience guiding and climbing and did an excellent job making me feel safe and sure about what we were doing.  His technical knowledge, as well as his knowledge of the area we were climbing in was definitely great in making the experience a success.

I would recommend the program, but I might caution a beginner climber that the climbing was a bit more involved than I expected.  For example, I had the experience of lead belaying climbers, but I’m not sure if someone who did not have the experience would be able to have climbed where we did.  I found it interesting that nobody asked me (that I recall) what my level of experience was before the trip.  I did like how Takao-san met the climbing to what he thought my abilities are.

Yes, I definitely would like to do it again.

I started ice climbing in Colorado and wanted to experience climbing in a different country.  If I had come during the summer I definitely would have rock climbed or taken a guided climbing trip.

I have a fair amount of climbing experience, but nothing too in-depth.  Takao-san took that into consideration for the routes we did.

Takao-san obviously has a lot of experience guiding and climbing and did an excellent job making me feel safe and sure about what we were doing.  His technical knowledge, as well as his knowledge of the area we were climbing in was definitely great in making the experience a success.

I would recommend the program, but I might caution a beginner climber that the climbing was a bit more involved than I expected.  For example, I had the experience of lead belaying climbers, but I’m not sure if someone who did not have the experience would be able to have climbed where we did.  I found it interesting that nobody asked me (that I recall) what my level of experience was before the trip.  I did like how Takao-san met the climbing to what he thought my abilities are.

Yes, I definitely would like to do it again.

It was a really great experience and good for technical knowledge. He picked us up on time and was flexible with our schedules. The climbing itself was amazing and challenging. Beautiful scenery and the walk in to the waterfalls were interesting.

(Travelled December 2016)

On the whole, we enjoyed ourselves very much! We love Japan and have a huge respect for our the Japanese who are polite, organized, professional and have some of the best food in the world 🙂

Takao-san was very friendly, gentle, patient and genuine. We enjoyed his company throughout. Of course, we slowly learned that he is one of the most experienced mountaineers and guides around in Japan. In any case, we always felt safe with him. He also spoke well enough in English such that we could have simple conversations and understood the instructions. We would recommend him to others should they need a guide 🙂

Sounkyo is interesting. The two waterfalls are beautiful and it’s a privilege to be able to climb them. It seems we are there a bit early so the town was really quiet. Kin Shi waterfall was also great, first pitch was spectacular. 

It’s our first time in Hokkaido, we are surprised how cold it is. It seems there must be endless reliable ice climbing routes here and the season is much longer than the alps. When we were in Champagny en Vanoise in end Jan last season, we were climbing on really thin ice. Routes are manageable, not too difficult. The first 30m pitch of Kin Shi was probably my favorite. Takao said that there are routes by the sea. That would be really interesting to try out when we next come back to Hokkaido.

If there is a downside, I’m not sure the value compares well to the alps. When we were in Champagny, the cost was about 350 euro a day for a local guide incl. all equipment rentals. We climbed routes that were 7-8 pitches long that took 4-5 hours. With Takao, the first day Ginga we did single pitch practices (it was a bone freezing -20 to -25 so just as well we didn’t do the multi pitch), the second day Kin Shi was a 4 pitch climb we finished around 1230 back at the car park. I understand that the cost may be due to the limited number of guides, high cost in Japan, and transportation, but if the tour was about 20 percent cheaper that could be more attractive. 

I think it’s a great job what Explore & Share is doing to develop the Japanese climbing scene and open the opportunities for foreign climbers like myself. Overall I’m optimistic that there is much potential and I look forward to coming back. 

 

 

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