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Inexperienced with powder, going to Niseko early February

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hey everyone! New here.

So I am living in Korea, and while my nearest mountain is about an hour away via public transport (I'm there almost every weekend now), I am going to head over to Niseko Japan this February for a week (3rd-10th). I have always heard (and seen in videos) that Niseko is a goldmine of fresh powder, and is a great option for someone new to trying out powder, since the mountains themselves aren't exactly too huge.

My big question is, is it essential for me to hire a guide? I ask this because I haven't been able to find anything under 450$, since I am going solo to Japan. I'm pretty certain the answer is yes...?

 

I only recently began skiing more often than 3 times a year, but I would say that I am an intermediate skier. 

 

Has anyone else had any experience going to Niseko? Any tips? I'm gonna be staying in Moiwa, if that matters.

Thanks!

 

Moderator note: Moved to International (outside North America)

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post #2 of 16

You won't need to hire a guide, Please note Moiwa is separate from the three main interconnected Niseko areas, and has a separate lift pass. It's quieter, less crowded and may in fact be the better choice for starting out in powder. Nevertheless, you'll want to at least spend a few days at the main areas of Annupuri, Higashiyama (now Village) and Hirafu/Hanazono, which all connect via the top lifts. There was a very nice deal between Moiwa and Annupuri which gave you cheap access to the other if you bought a day pass to one; I'm not sure if that will still be available this winter. PM me with any further questions.

post #3 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by jovegajo View Post
 

Hey everyone! New here.

So I am living in Korea, and while my nearest mountain is about an hour away via public transport (I'm there almost every weekend now), I am going to head over to Niseko Japan this February for a week (3rd-10th). I have always heard (and seen in videos) that Niseko is a goldmine of fresh powder, and is a great option for someone new to trying out powder, since the mountains themselves aren't exactly too huge.

My big question is, is it essential for me to hire a guide? I ask this because I haven't been able to find anything under 450$, since I am going solo to Japan. I'm pretty certain the answer is yes...?

 

I only recently began skiing more often than 3 times a year, but I would say that I am an intermediate skier. 

 

Has anyone else had any experience going to Niseko? Any tips? I'm gonna be staying in Moiwa, if that matters.

Thanks!

 

Moderator note: Moved to International (outside North America)


Welcome to EpicSki!  From what I've read, you will be able to find manageable powder without a guide.  Spending a little money on a lesson or two may be worth considering.  Assuming you want to learn to enjoy untracked powder that is > 10 inches deep.  Note that there are  instructors in Japan who are native speakers of English.

 

I added a tag (Topics Discussed in right hand column) for Niseko, scroll down to the linked page for a list of related threads.  We have Americans and Australians who go to Niseko for ski vacations.

 

To use the Private Message (PM) feature, look in the top right corner for the envelop icon.

 

Since most of the discussions around here are about skiing in North America, you will find more relevant info in threads in the International Zone.  Unfortunately, as EpicSki grew in the last 15 years the location of some forums is not that obvious.  To find a specific forum, try using the drop down under Forums (menu bar).

 

post #4 of 16
From what I hear you will need good low light lenses for goggles. Fog can be an issue. Watch out for step cracks - they have a name which I forget. Jim in Tokyo will know. Essentially the snow pack separates and you get a large crack and a step down or up. It can stop you cold.

Tip would be bring skis appropriate for powder if that's what you want. There's plenty of native English speaking instructors but where exactly they are I don't know.
post #5 of 16
Quote:
 someone new to trying out powder

Rent fat skis.  Ski with your feet close together, balance equal on both feet (the heavy one will sink, otherwise), find how the skis like to balance fore & aft.  You don't need to keep your tips above the surface.  Don't sit back.  Stand tall, slight flex in all the joints, and ski with your feet.  You can't twist skis to turn when they're down in the snow.  Bank them in the snow like an airplane banking in a turn in the sky.

post #6 of 16
Hopefully Jim in Tokyo will respond. It might be easier to rent before leaving home.
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

(thanks for moving this over to international! Couldn't figure out exactly where to post at first)

Thanks for the tips. My own skis are K2 amp Shockwave... should I just leave em at home then and rent skis over at Niseko? I can't rent skis from Korea to take to Japan, and powder skis just are not available here anyways.

post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog View Post

From what I hear you will need good low light lenses for goggles. Fog can be an issue. Watch out for step cracks - they have a name which I forget. Jim in Tokyo will know. Essentially the snow pack separates and you get a large crack and a step down or up. It can stop you cold.

Tip would be bring skis appropriate for powder if that's what you want. There's plenty of native English speaking instructors but where exactly they are I don't know.

 

Glide cracks happen in pretty specific places and weather patterns there. If it's cold and has been, they shouldn't be an issue. Spring time is when they arrive with lubricated melting snow gliding on 'sasa' below.  Sasa's a bushy bamboo relative. 

post #9 of 16

I'm going to say bring your K2s; at 78mm underfoot they might be good for dipping in and out of small stashes of powder on the side of the main groomed run at Moiwa to get your feet wet (so to speak) in powder.

Also, there are times even in mid-winter when it hasn't snowed for a week, the off-piste has deteriorated into advanced/expert-ONLY conditions but the groomer cruising is prime. You can always rent powder skis for the foot+ dumps.

As Markojp says, glide cracks shouldn't be a problem in early Feb, and inbounds they'd be marked & roped by patrol anyway (I don't expect the OP will be heading out the gates into side country on this first trip).

I've PM'd about finding instruction. 

post #10 of 16

The OP's big question was: Do I need to hire a guide? The answer is: No, of course not. There are five areas you can ski (Moiwa + four Niseko United areas), all with both pistes and lots of in-bounds tree lines to try out. Given your experience level and time frame, there's no need to ski out of bounds (which you shouldn't do without avalanche gear and training anyway). Just enjoy the resort skiing. Bring your boots but rent skis downstairs from the Hirafu gondola (good, inexpensive, and you can leave the skis with them at the end of each day). Sign up for a morning group lesson with GoSnow or NBS and ask the instructor how to ski powder. (The keys are distributing your mass closer to 50-50 on both skis and not turning too far from the fall line.) Try night skiing. Have fun!

post #11 of 16

Oops, well if you're staying in Moiwa you can't rent in Hirafu. But Moiwa's got rentals too. Ski there one day, take the bus to Annupuri the next, and either ski or bus over to the other resorts the other days. You can also get reasonably priced lessons at Moiwa -- check their website.

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJSailor View Post
 

The OP's big question was: Do I need to hire a guide? The answer is: No, of course not. There are five areas you can ski (Moiwa + four Niseko United areas), all with both pistes and lots of in-bounds tree lines to try out. Given your experience level and time frame, there's no need to ski out of bounds (which you shouldn't do without avalanche gear and training anyway). Just enjoy the resort skiing. Bring your boots but rent skis downstairs from the Hirafu gondola (good, inexpensive, and you can leave the skis with them at the end of each day). Sign up for a morning group lesson with GoSnow or NBS and ask the instructor how to ski powder. (The keys are distributing your mass closer to 50-50 on both skis and not turning too far from the fall line.) Try night skiing. Have fun!

Thanks for the tip!

Skiing trees in bounds is what I'm hoping for :D I'll check out those groups lessons~

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

So I just realized that I never got back to everyone with how my trip went!

I made the following video with some of the shots I took while there, but I (OF COURSE) didn't manage to record on 2 of the best runs I did off-piste. 



So I did in fact take some classes, which really helped me with fixing my poor form that had become habit after having learned skiing my whole life without any guidance.

 

The snow was amazing, like nothing else I ever experienced! I managed to do some skiing outside the gates, which was both scary and REALLY FUN... had a friend of mine from Europe who was used to skiing off-piste along with me, so he helped me figure some stuff out. One of the days we were there, the weather was totally clear and I got an AMAZING view of Mt. Yotei (the rest were VERY snowy :P as expected). It was so good that I'm going to head back this january, but to Furano AND Niseko... can't wait!


Edited by jovegajo - 7/28/16 at 1:05am
post #14 of 16

Niseko is a pretty fantastic place for someone new to powder... lot's of lower angle stuff to dip one's toes in up the learning curve, and there's a good bit of easy/moderate piste to just ski and get things dialed in. 

post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by jovegajo View Post
 

So I just realized that I never got back to everyone with how my trip went!

I made the following video with some of the shots I took while there, but I (OF COURSE) didn't manage to record on 2 of the best runs I did off-piste. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYxvbVm54WU

So I did in fact take some classes, which really helped me with fixing my poor form that had become habit after having learned skiing my whole life without any guidance.

 

The snow was amazing, like nothing else I ever experienced! I managed to do some skiing outside the gates, which was both scary and REALLY FUN... had a friend of mine from Europe who was used to skiing off-piste along with me, so he helped me figure some stuff out. One of the days we were there, the weather was totally clear and I got an AMAZING view of Mt. Yotei (the rest were VERY snowy :P as expected). It was so good that I'm going to head back this january, but to Furano AND Niseko... can't wait!

 

 

Thanks for the trip report.  Did you most of the time in lessons on groomers or off-piste?

 

Here's video embedded

 

post #16 of 16

That's great news! Glad to hear you had fun.

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