Walking the difficult ‘knife ridge’ to Mt. Toyoni-dake in the Hidaka mountain range   

The Hidaka mountain range, which has been unofficially nominated as national park, is dotted with ‘knife ridges,’ that are cut off at both sides. Since the opening of the Nozuka Tunnel on National Highway Route 236 (from the town of Hiroo in the Tokachi region to the town of Urakawa in the Hidaka region), the number of climbers on Mt. Toyoni-dake (1,493 m) has rapidly increased, and this knife ridge is the most difficult traverse.

 In the early hours of April 2, we entered the mountain near the exit of the Nozuka Tunnel on the Hiroo side. While we were heading toward the ridgeline, the morning sun turned Mt. Toyoni-dake red.

 As we proceeded north along the ridge, we came upon a shoulder-width knife ridge with cliffs that dropped several hundred meters below on both sides. Along with glacial curls (cirques), this is a characteristic geographical feature of the Hidaka Mountains. We shortened our stride to avoid losing our balance in the strong side winds, and crossed the difficult terrain.
 
When we reached the false summit before the real peak of Mt. Toyoni-dake, we could see the mountains to the north. In the distance was Pirikanupuri (1,631 m), which means ‘beautiful mountain’ in the Ainu language. Amid the 360-degree panorama, there are almost no manmade objects in sight, just primeval landscapes. These are the characteristics of the Hidaka Sanmyaku-Erimo Quasi-national Park, which will be made into a national park by the end of this year.

(Photos and words by Kobayashi Motohide)

The most difficult knife ridge on the way to Mt. Toyoni-dake (far right). Proceeding carefully one step at a time. Around 9:15 a.m. on April 2
The southern part of the Hidaka mountain range, where the ridges continue. Strong winds blow the snow, creating a white haze, at around 9:05 a.m. on April 2
Mt. Toyoni-dake (front center) as seen from the Toyoni-dake false summit. To the left is Toyoni-dake north peak (1,529 m), to the left in the distance is Pirikanupuri. To the right, the Tokachi Plain and Pacific Ocean can be seen. Around 10 a.m. on April 2 (composition of 3 photos)

Location

Mt. Toyoni-dake

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