• Rishiri
  • 1721 m
  • Primary factor 1721 m
  • Japan
  • Location: North 45.17848, East 141.24217 (GPS at the summit)
  • Difficulty: YDS class 3
  • Climbed June 22. 2015.


How to get there:
The point of reference is the northernmost city in Japan, Wakkanai. From here, there is a regular ferry schedule to the island of Rishiri. The first ferry leaving in the morning is around 0700, while the last ferry back to Wakkanai leaves the island of Rishiri around 1700. Consult an up to date ferry schedule for precise information.
From the ferry on Rishiri to the trailhead is about 3 kilometer. One may walk this distance, but it is likely more efficent to take a taxi, in particular if you plan to catch a ferry back on the same day. The trailhead has a visitor center, good parking facilities and a good supply of drinking water. This location is at elevation 220 meter and
Here is a summary of climbs from this trip in the summer of 2015.
Route description:
Head uphill past the park center and start on the very nice initial section of the trail. You will soon reach a creek with signs advising that this is a good place to drink and collect water for the rest of the climb. A bit later, you arrive at a trail fork with signs in Japanese only. Keep right here. The trail heads uphill fairly consistently. The higher sections are appreciably steeper and earns this part of the route a (YDS) class 2 rating. Eventually, you arrive at the "tourist" summit. This is also called Rishiri-san - Kitaa Mime.
There is a complex set of symbols on this top, its elevation is also incorrectly stated as 1721 meter. There are some ropes making a (symbolic?) boundary and possibly some signs in Japanese only, that may say that one should not proceed any further.
However, it is well known that the highest point of this mountain is quite a bit further along the ridge, while this first summit measures only 1719 meter.
The route that leads to the true highest point is not very difficult and it is objectively quite safe, however it is a (YDS) class 3 route.
First descend while going slightly to your right. Next, cross more horizontally at the upper end of a big gully with somewhat looser rocks/soil below you. The crossing itself is on stable and not very difficult terrain. Next, ascend a narrow ridge, enter some dense dwarf-pine vegetation, then emerge on a small, new summit point. This is not higher, so one needs to continue. First, follow an old trail between more vegetation heading somewhat downslope. Follow the natural line of progress, then you arrive at a point where a downclimb to the left side is called for. This downclimb (and re-climb) is YDS class 3. The rocks are solid and there are good handholds, there is not much exposure. Proceed down in 3 natural steps. This is the crux of the route. At the bottom, contour around the top of a wide chute that drops to your left side. There was a snow bank here when we visited, likely making things slightly more convenient. Then, what remains is an easy ascent of the final ridge (with dwarf pine vegetation) that leads to the highest point.
This was the first summit in a busy (extended) week of climbing ultra prominent peaks in Japan. My friend Geir Åke Dahlen travelled from Oslo, we met in Copenhagen and flew to Narita. Changing airport, we departed from Halenda and flew to the Sapporo airport where we picked up a rental car, then drove to the northenmost town, Wakkanai, where we had booked a hotel room for the night.
The next morning, we took the 0715 ferry to the island of Rishiri. The crossing took 1:40, we immediately got a taxi that drove us about 3 kilometer to the trailhead.
We started hiking at 0915, obviously much later than most Japanese climbers. In fact, as we came within the last half hour of the "official summit", a pretty large number of Japanese hikers started coming down the trail.
We arrived at the 1719 summit at 1205. It did not rain, but we had clouds (ie. fog) all around us. We could not see anything in the direction of the continued ridge. As we were sitting on the next hump on our way along the ridge, there was no higher terrain in sight. Suddenly, a sharp, tower-like summit appeared. This looked like really bad news since this summit looked too difficult for our team today.
The clouds lifted a bit and to our great relief, a ridge that clearly extended to a higher elevation than the tower, came into view. Excited about finally seeing our target, the rest was easy. A short down-climb, crossing a bank of snow, then an easy ridge to the true summit - 1721 m, of Rishiri-san. We arrived around 1240. We rested 15 minutes, then returned to the "tourist" summit. The clouds would not really lift despite some patience from our side. We finally left the 1719 summit at 1330. Hiking back down was smooth, we were at the trailhead in 2:10. After yet a small break, we continued on foot another 30 minutes back down to the ferry. Thus, no problem and time to spare before taking the last ferry back to the main island.