or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › EpicSki Community › Trip Reports  › Niseko, Japan - Jan 21-29 - Solo Trip
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Niseko, Japan - Jan 21-29 - Solo Trip

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Have been planning this trip since last March - when a ski patroller at Alta told me - "The only place that gets more powder than here - is Niseko, Japan". How true.

 

Flew from SFO to Sapporo, Japan via Tokyo - JAL. 3 hour bus ride later - I was in Niseko. I stayed in a Pensione - a B& B basically. A 5-10 min free shuttle ride from the lifts. Leading up to my arrival it had snowed 6-8in each of the previous 4 days - with another 6 inch - the day I arrived.This is the day of arrival.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those who are unfamiliar with Niseko United - There are four interconnected resorts. Annapuri, Hirafu, HIgashiyama and Hanazono - with a combined lift ticket (more on that later). The inbounds is probably about the size as Jackson Hole. Like Jackson they have a number (10,  I think) side country gates - that gives you access to many more acres of unpatrolled backcountry skiing. SOme of which funnel back to the resorts, others require some hiking to get back. In addition there are at least 5 other resorts within 45-60 min - Moiwa, Kiroru, Rusutsu etc etc - with tons of other BC opportunities.

 

Day 1 - I signed up with Hanazono Powder guides - they have a Fresh Tracks program that starts at 730am - an hour before lifts start turning. 

 

Slayed the front side first

 

By 11 - they opened the Annapuri Peak gates

 

 

Dipped down into the Back Bowls

 

Dinner my first night. The food in Niseko is frickin amazing and inexpensive.

 

 

Day 2. I explored around the resort myself

 

 

Day3 - Stormy Day - More powder. Spent time in the trees

 

 

Day 4 - I signed up with Niseko Powder Guides - they took me to Moiwa - a nearby resort. PLenty of fresh tracks to be had out

the sidecountry gates with a little traversing and hiking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5 - Spent most of time in Annapuri - off of Gate 1, 2  - by now I was little familiar with finding my route back to the lift.

 

 

Day 6 - Signed up with Black Diamond Guides An outfit run by a bunch of Canadians from BC. They took me Skinning up the backside of a nearby resort - Kiroru. More fresh tracks.

 

 

 

Day 7 - R & R

 

Gyu Bar - or refrigerator door bar

 

 

 

Menu at Rin

 

 

 

Ice Bar

 

 

 

Grilled local fish

 

 

Day 8 - Skiing by myself in Hanazono - off gate 4, 5

 

 

 

Day 9 - More snow, More Powder. Mostly Gate 3, Gate 4, Gate 5

 

 

 

 

A word about the snow - Looks like they average about 650-700 in a year. Unlike the US - where they tell you - you will get 30 inch, you get 10in and they report 20in !!! In Niseko, on days they tell you there will be no snow you get 2-3 inches. On days they tell you 10-15 cms - you get 20-30cms. It snowed everyday- I was there. Of course - luck has something to do with it.

 

About the town- I would say Hirafu - the center - is as big as whistler main village. Tons of nice bars and restaurants - mostly serving excellent Japanese food. There are few serving pizza, pasta and burgers. Couple of food trucks selling Burritos and Tandoori. 

 

The people - 80% are Australians. 10% Japanese. Remaining 10% are Americans, Canadians and Europeans. I have been on 3/4 solo trips to SLC before but never so far away for 9 days. I was a little apprehesive. I met so many interesting people.  Everybody is supremely friendly. Met people from Montana, Vail, SF, Southern Alberta. Met a bunch of Uber employees who were on a "business trip".  Had a fun fun time. I could easily spend a month here.

 

Lift Tickets - combined all mountain lift ticket is only $45-50. You can also buy 4 hours, 6 hours per day. Or you could buy

30 hours, 60 hours - cumulative tickets.wish US resorts would do this. 

 

I will leave you with a photo of Mt Yotei - from my bedroom window. It was socked in most of my trip - except for this one time. A number of people were organizing BC trips to Mt Yotei. Apparently it is a 4-6 hours of skinning up. You ski down also into the caldera. Maybe next time  - but I need to get in better shape first.

 

 

 

One last thing - I know I compared Niseko to JH above. It is only as a point of reference to point out the BC - sidecountry possibilities. Not suggesting that the two are similar. Pl don't send me any hate mail. 

 

Finally - Get out there. Put it on you bucket list. The distance is only in your mind.  It is an amazing place. 

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 17
Great report!
80% Australians eh?
So those hike photos make things look crowded for pow access. How was the skiing open space with people and how was the snow quality?
I take it you didn't do much groomed?
post #3 of 17
Nice!
post #4 of 17

How's the avy risk?

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog View Post

Great report!
80% Australians eh?
So those hike photos make things look crowded for pow access. How was the skiing open space with people and how was the snow quality?
I take it you didn't do much groomed?

Yes - the hike up is crowded. But the peak has a North face, East face and the back bowls. Once you drop into the bowls - hardly anyone there - as you can see from some of the pictures

i posted from inside the bowls. 

 

Snow quality - Light and Dry.

 

 

Groomed - only to get to where i needed to get to.

post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hirustler View Post
 

How's the avy risk?

Well ! I signed up with guides everytime I went OB. I didnt see any slides. Did not hear about any accidents. The BC access out the gates - is completely unpatrolled. There is

an Avalance Report that comes out every morning rating the conditions. Some of the days the gates were closed. One of the guides I was talking to - did not have a high opinion about the

quality of the Avy report. There is  ski patrol at the gates - checking to see if you have your beacon turned on when you leave the gates. And plenty of warning signs saying you 

are responsible for any cost involved - if you need to be rescued !! 

post #7 of 17
Glide cracks and getting lost whilst drunk account for lives lost rather than avalanche at Niseko. Niseko side country outside the gates is not very steep.
As mentioned, beyond the gates is unpatrolled. If you do require an OOB rescue it is a mandatory report to the police and you will wear the cost of rescue. Have seen police waiting at the Kutchan hospital to interview skiers that were rescued.
Always check your insurance fine print. Many of our insurers here in Oz now don't offer BC cover. Don't know about US providers but don't expect they would be any better.
Fresh lines are available for days after snow unlike NA.

My 14 yo
post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog View Post

Great report!
80% Australians eh?
So those hike photos make things look crowded for pow access. How was the skiing open space with people and how was the snow quality?
I take it you didn't do much groomed?

When it's going on there, not much need to,ski groomers other than transit. Great to hear the food scene is better. In the old days, the options were very limited.
post #9 of 17

Great report!!! Just wondering, when you did all of your planning, did you look into other places as well?  ie. Risutzu (sp?)  Would you choose a different location in Japan if you were going back next year?

post #10 of 17
One should be careful skiing near calderas. Where was the one in Japan that blew up in the fall killing nearly 100 hikers?
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog View Post

One should be careful skiing near calderas. Where was the one in Japan that blew up in the fall killing nearly 100 hikers?

All calderas/volcanic peaks are not equally active. The biggest danger on Yotei is going down, then having trouble getting back out if it's hard at the rim the last 50m or so unless you have crampons. Not super common, but I've have friends who've said it was a pain getting back out on a particular day. Most of the time, you stop below the rim where it hasn't been wind scowered. It's all about the quality of the snow. smile.gif
post #12 of 17
dRusutsu and Kiroro can be day tripped from Niseko. Daily shuttle bus.
That lift line at Moiwa is crazy. Have never seen it that busy. As a family we love skiing there because we often have the powder and trees to ourself.
Looks like that ship has sailed.frown.gif
Edited by craigr - 2/5/15 at 2:11pm
post #13 of 17

What is a glide crack?

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by agreen View Post
 

Great report!!! Just wondering, when you did all of your planning, did you look into other places as well?  ie. Risutzu (sp?)  Would you choose a different location in Japan if you were going back next year?

No, I did not look at other places in Japan. Niseko hit all the check marks - amount of snow, quality of snow, BC options, availability of guides and apres ski. 

 

However the next time I go - I may decide to spend a few days at Nagano, Hakuba - before heading back to Niseko :)

post #15 of 17
Glide cracks open up when there us not enough friction for the snow pack to adhere to the underlying surface. Normally happens on steeper terrain apparently. Niseko is not very steep but I'm told the glide cracks occur because of the sasa grass which is a type of bamboo. They don't normally slab off at Niseko because of the low gradient but they can be deep and wide. Skiers/boarders hit them at speed in the flat light smash into the other side and legs can be broken. Poor guy can't get out and is soon covered by the snow which doesn't take long.
I have personally fallen in to one which was about 2.5 metres deep. Not at speed and with others so I was ok. I just disappeared in front of them. This occurred inbounds.
A couple of weeks ago, the top chair at Seki Onsen was closed because glide crack had opened up on the main face
post #16 of 17

My guess is that the big line in the Moiwa photo is tour groups or guided groups all showing up for the first chair. Usually they disappear soon enough.

post #17 of 17
Could be. I don't bother getting up too early:)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Trip Reports

Gear mentioned in this thread:

EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › EpicSki Community › Trip Reports  › Niseko, Japan - Jan 21-29 - Solo Trip