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“Shiretoko Snow Wall Walk” Rausu Course - I enjoyed the dominant snow wall and beautiful views of Shiretoko!

Rausu-Cho and Shari-Cho hold the World Natural Heritage Site Shiretoko. “Shiretoko Snow Wall Walk” is an event which these two towns co-host in winter. This event is very popular as you can enjoy the magnificent nature of Shiretoko and you will get a chance to walk in areas which are usually restricted.


The picture is provided by Shiretoko Rausu Tourism Association


Shiretoko Snow Wall Walk in 2019 is planned to be on 14 April, and they accept applications until 29 March. Why don’t you participate in Shiretoko Snow Wall Walk to witness the dominant snow wall and feel an early sign of spring in Shiretoko? 

 

Table of Contents

- What is Shiretoko Snow Wall Walk? 
- Start of Shiretoko Snow Wall Walk! We will climb first 
- Watch the snow removal work near the top
- And walk down the path we climbed
- A treat after the goal
- How to access Rausu from Nakashibetsu Airport


 

What is Shiretoko Snow Wall Walk? 

The picture is provided by Shiretoko Rausu Tourism Association


Shiretoko Highway connects to Shiretoko Pass is normally closed during winter and opens around the Golden Week holidays from the end of April to early May. (It depends on situations of snow removal work
However, Shiretoko Snow Wall Walk lets you walk Shiretoko Highway for a day before the road opens

There are dominant snow walls on both sides of the road where snow removal is done. This tour let you feel early signs of spring in Shiretoko and enjoy beautiful views as you walk.

 

Start of Shiretoko Snow Wall Walk! We will climb first 

I participated in Shiretoko Snow Wall Walk (Rausu Course) in 2018 so let me tell you how it was! 


▲Snow walls started to appear as I got close to Shiretoko Pass. 


▲Walls get higher! 


Participants gather at the Michi No Eki (roadside station) and get on a bus together and head to the starting point which is Shiretoko Pass. 

There were almost no snow walls at first, and I thought we didn’t get much snow this year. However, as the elevation gets higher, snow walls started to appear gradually. We felt tall snow walls might crash to the bus at curves. The bus was filled with excited screams! 


▲The president of the tourism association gave a speech to start the event. 


▲We started walking altogether. 


The snow wall at the starting point looked like we can reach to the top when we jump a bit. They said the wall is already three meters high which means a plenty amount of snow is here. My expectations towards the height near the pass raised a lot! 


▲Sasaki, the writer, started to walk, too! Can I really walk 10 kilometers? 


When I applied for the tour, I wasn’t sure if I should go to Rausu Course or Utoro Course. The pamphlet wrote Utoro Course is for “kids and beginners.” I am a healthy man in his thirties which made me think I should not choose Utoro Course.

I am not really an athletic person but chose Rausu Course which is for a good walker. I was not sure if I chose the right course. 

* From 2019, they don’t distinguish the course by “kids/beginner” and “good walker.” There are different attractions so choose the one you are interested in! 


▲I noticed many snowplows on top. 


After we walked a while from the starting point and looked up, we noticed some snowplows doing the work. We were planning to watch snow removal walk near the top, which means we have to walk up to there. 

It looks close in the picture, but I zoomed with my zoom lens fully. It seems like a long way


▲It was a magnificent view. 


▲I can notice how strong winds blow here by looking crooked trees. 


雪壁の迫力だけに目を奪われがちですが、知床連山と雪に覆われた木々も力強く美しいです。ですが、同時に自然の厳しさも垣間見えます。木の左半分の葉っぱが全くなくなっているし、心なしか斜めになっている…。I was not only amazed by impressive snow walls but also powerful and beautiful Shiretoko Mountain Range and trees covered with snow. However, I could notice the severe reality of nature. The left half of the trees do not have leaves and they are crooked a little…


▲The ocean side is also beautiful!  


I looked back to see the ocean side and realized this side was also beautiful. You will be able to see Kunashiri Island far away when the weather is nice. There are lots of attractions more than snow walls in Shiretoko Snow Wall Walk! 


▲Everyone is climbing at their best.


▲We arrived near the top finally! 


▲The tallest point of the snow wall was eight meters for this year! 


The height of snow walls becomes taller than other places suddenly near the top. The height depends on the amount of snow each year, and the tallest point this year was eight meters tall! We can see how tall the wall is when we compare with people’s heights. 


▲I am stuck in the snow wall! 


▲“I ♡ SHIRETOKO”


They prepare many photo shooting spots. For example, there was a human-shaped curving on a snow wall so a person can get in and there were many places with paintings. I did not get bored with walking because of these attractions

 

Watch the snow removal work near the top

▲The snow removing work was astonishing. 


▲Many participants were taking pictures and videos of the work.


The snow plows removing snow vigorously and was definitely the highlight of the tour. Roaring sound like a rumbling of the earth and falling pieces of snow. Participants were enjoying this show very much as this could be a single attraction.


▲The panel exhibition was put in front of Michi No Eki.


Enjoying to watch the work is nice. However, you should not forget that Shiretoko Pass is available for us to cross because of people who work to remove snows

People often say that “it is inconvenient that the road is closed during winter,” or “it should be able to cross the road if people work a little harder to remove snow” to travel from Rausu to Utoro. I learned that it is not that easy by participating in this tour. 

In the beginning, snow plows can’t enter easily in areas with eight meters snow, and we need to remove snow cornices which is one of the causes of an avalanche by hands.

I learned that the pass becomes available because of people who work hard and risking their lives to remove snow. 

 

And walk down the path we climbed

After learning and enjoying the hard work of removing snow, we will turn around and go down the pass to get back to the starting point. ​
 had emotional leeway this time, so I took the time to observe snow walls rather than landscapes. 


▲I noticed there were layers on snow walls when I looked closely. 


Snow walls were like a stratum with layers. It snowed and got hard again and again and created these layers of snow. Can we able to identify how many times snowed here if we count the number of layers? 


▲This is a snow cornice. 


There were many places with snow cornices on top of snow walls. This can be a cause of avalanches during snow removal works. However, this is also an art of nature humans can’t create. It is made with strong winds.


▲There was another human-shaped curving. 


▲A funny (?) panda shaped photo spot! 


There were many attractions like this on the way back. I wanted to try everything, so I was having fun all the time while walking the way back. 

By the way, the inside of this panda is entirely a cave. They curved a tunnel in the snow wall, and people can walk inside. I felt like I was a child again! ​


▲I tried hard to climb the wall seriously. 


Snow walls were icy and hard, so there was no place I could put my feet. I learned that I would be not able to get out with my light clothes if snow walls surrounded me. 


▲Reached the goal after walking about three hours! 


I walked 10 kilometers in total! I did not feel any fatigues with excitement and fresh air

Snow walls were eight meters high at the highest near the top, but it was approximately one meter near the goal. We could jump this wall if it’s the height is like this.

 

A treat after the goal

▲A warm welcome from people in Rausu-Cho. 


▲A warm bowl of seafood soup. 


The soup really soaked into my numb body from the coldness with physical fatigues and feeling of achievement. It brought back me to life! 


▲I won a prize from a lottery! 


▲They gave me some presents, too. 


They did a lottery with registration number, and you have a chance to win local specialties of Rausu such as Konbu soy sauce and dried salmons. And they will give you an achievement certificate and  Rausu Konbu and Shiretoko goods for prizes for participation. 


▲My face is filled with a feeling of achievement! 


My face is filled with a feeling of achieving 10 kilometers walk round trip! I heard that the course was actually shortened to eight kilometers due to snow removal situations, but I decided to consider I did not hear that. I did walk 10 kilometers!

Shiretoko Snow Wall Walk was amazing with dominant snow walls, snow removal works, magnificent views of natural landscapes, and a great feeling of fatigues! 

 

How to access Rausu from Nakashibetsu Airport

- Bus
Nemuro Kotsu: From Nakashibetsu Airport to Nakashibetsu Bus Terminal (approx. 10mins)
Akan Bus: From Nakashibetsu Bus Terminal to Rausu (approx. 1.5 hours)

- Rental Car: Approx. 1 to 1.5 hours. 

 

Related Links

- Shiretoko Rausu Tourism Association
- Shiretoko Shari-Cho Tourist Association
Information about Bus (Nemuro Nakashibetsu Airport)
  • “Shiretoko Snow Wall Walk” Rausu Course - I enjoyed the dominant snow wall and beautiful views of Shiretoko!

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Ryo Sazaki

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