Sapporo: Ski Mountaineering Tradition
In Hokkaido Prefecture, the sport of ski mountaineering has a long history. Making your way up into the mountains is possible when you have skis. Climbing through the deep snow requires skill, experience and thorough preparation. But the ascent is fun and heading down is even more so. In Japan, the first place where ski mountaineering began was the Academic Alpine Club of Hokkaido, which is part of Hokkaido University. The students here have been skiing for over 100 years. Cveto Podlogar is a licensed international mountain guide from Slovenia. On this episode of Journeys in Japan, Cveto heads out into the mountains with the Alpine Club for a training session, to get a taste of their ski mountaineering tradition.

Academic Alpine Club of Hokkaido, Hokkaido University

Students in Sapporo were first taught to ski by a German language teacher
from Switzerland in 1909. The university alpine club was founded in 1926 to continue the tradition of ski mountaineering.

Helvetia Hütte

On the outskirts of the city, the Academic Alpine Club has a mountain hut where students hold training camps. It was originally built by a Swiss university professor and to this day it's called Helvetia Hütte, from the Latin name for Switzerland.

Ski Mountaineering

The skis for ski mountaineering have dual attachments, so the heel can be left free for climbing and walking, as in Nordic skiing, but fixed for the descent, so you can ski down in the Alpine style.


From Tokyo, flights take an hour and a half to New Chitose Airport, the gateway to Sapporo. Every day, there are dozens of flights.