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Intro to Ice Climbing in Sounkyo, Hokkaido

Intro to Ice Climbing in Sounkyo, Hokkaido
Ice Climbing in Sounkyo

Hire a local certified mountain guide, Yu, for a 2-day ice climbing trip to explore the ice climbing scene in Sounkyo, Hokkaido!



2 Days

Jan, Feb




Sounkyo Ice Climbing.

I'd like to introduce ice climbing in Hokkaido, in Japan, and show you that Hokkaido is not all about skiing! I will take you to Daisetsuzan area for 2 days, which is the best known ice climbing area in Hokkaido, with more than 10 large scale waterfalls. The scenic gorges have a lot of both ice and mixed routes.

This course is more for beginners or those with some prior experience.

Required Levels:

Beginner / Intermediate – You will need to have had a prior summer rock climbing experience, as you would need to know how to belay someone. You need to be fit enough to walk the 30min approach, and be comfortable crossing a section of water with water level lower than knee height in wellington boots (available for rent if feet size in between 25-27cm at JPY 1,000 per pair) or on bare foot.

Beginners to ice climbing are very welcome!


Day 1: From Sapporo, we will drive to Sounkyo valley (140km, 3hrs), located within Daisetsuzan National Park. We will head to "Ginga no taki" (Waterfall of Galaxy) for ice climbing (120m, WI3*, 4 pitches). Overnight stay at an accommodation with onsen.

Day 2: Visit the "Kinshi no taki" (Waterfall of Tinsel) for ice climbing (100m, WI3/4*, 3 pitches). A relaxing dip in an onsen before driving back to Sapporo. Estimated time of return is around 6pm.

*Ice Climbing Grades:

WI3 – generally sustained in the 60-70 degree range with occasional near-vertical steps up to 4 metres

WI4 – near-vertical steps of up to 10 metres, generally sustained climbing requiring placing protection screws from strenuous stances

If you're after a more challenging course then please have a look at my ice climbing programme for more experienced / advanced ice climbers.

Included in Price:-

Guide Fee

Excluded from Price:-


Climate: Temperature in this area ranges from -8 to -15c. The waterfall is in a valley so it is not affected by the wind. Prepare yourself with layers of warm clothes!


– Crampon compatible Mountaineering boots
– Technical ice axes
– Harness
– Helmet
– CramponsItems such as ice axes, harness, helmet, and crampons can be rented at JPY 2,000 each (rental of ice axes are JPY 4,000 for the 2 days). Other ice climbing gears such as ice screws, quick draws etc. will be provided.

Other Info:

  • Reservation opens 6 months prior to the trip date. Please reserve well in advance

  • Full payment needs to be made at least 1 month in advance


  • In case of bad weather / conditions (including road conditions), the trip itinerary may be altered and/or date change can be discussed.

  • Riding on the guide’s car is considered as ride sharing and thus will only covered under normal car insurance. The guide’s responsibility and liability is only applicable from the departure from the start of the approach path until our return to the same point.

  • Please make sure all participants are individual insured appropriately with international travel insurance which specifically covers ice climbing.

  • For any injuries in the mountains, the guide will not be liable and will need to be paid by your own means.

Accommodation options in SOUNKYO:

Mount View Hotel: Onsen, lots of Asian tourists. Half board. JPY 10,000.

Choyo-tei: Japanese style onsen hotel (half board). Great food! JPY 15,000-20,000.

Price includes

- Guiding fee

Price details

Accommodation is not included. Please note that clients will have to pay for the guide´s accommodation expense on the spot as well (JPY 10,000 per night, including half-board)


More info

  • Clients need to rent or bring snowshoes and ski poles

Meeting point

About the guide

Guide profile image




Mountain Guide

I am an JMGA mountain and ski guide born in the local village of Obihiro in Hokkaido. Mountains have always been close to me, as I started climbing mountains when I was 8. My mountain passion extended to backcountry skiing since 2006, around which time I also started guiding in the mountains.

I decided to become a mountain guide because not only did I like being in the mountains as a climber but I got more joy out of sharing the experiences and excitements with the people I climbed with. I just really enjoy it when others are also having a fun time!

I guide and enjoy both skiing and telemark skiing, but I prefer telemark skiing for its higher versatility in the mountains. Telemarking lets you enjoy the mountains in a different mindset to skiing. Even though it is more challenging to ski on them especially on more technical terrains but I embrace the challenge it offers. I also find it much easier to hike up on my telemarks than on my skis.

In the summer, my favourite guiding is long mountain traverse routes whilst in the winter my guiding activity includes backcountry skiing, snowshoe trekking, and ice climbing in Hokkaido. The beauty of guiding gin the winter is that one is not confined to ‘hiking routes’ like in the summer. My guiding fields of choice are places near Sapporo, Niseko and Daisetsuzan (Asahidake) area for backcountry skiing, but mostly I guide long routes on less crowded, more local mountains. It is my guiding policy, to not guide "slack country skiing", where we need to stick to the sides of ski resorts and is crowded with people. I feel there is more value add for me to take groups away from the crowds in less known areas best suited for the day’s condition and the weather.
As for popular areas, I do guide Mt Yotei (on the sides with less people), and Asahidake area but there isn’t much peak hunting to be done in Hokkaido.

My passion is to guide my clients to less populated areas, let them discover new areas and new kind of fun. I want visitors from all over the world to enjoy the accessible famous powder snow in Hokkaido, but I’d also like for you to venture into the depth of the mountains with me and to experience having the mountain all to ourselves. Please contact me if you’re keen on discovering the Hokkaido nature with me, whether it be in the summer or the winter!



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What people are saying about this trip



Yu is an english speaking local guide so don't be hesitant to book him for a trip. We did a 2 day ice climbing trip in Sounkyo and he gave me tips on technique which was really helpful! Learn a lot from him.



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.



Great, experienced guide. Very knowledgeable and professional and had a great time. Would definitely recommend.



(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.



Great, experienced guide. Very knowledgeable and professional and had a great time. Would definitely recommend.

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