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Hokkaido solo

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I had been planning on going to France to ski in January, but at this point it would be insane to leave Tahoe for Europe.  That said, I still want to take a trip and thus have been looking at alternatives.  Since I speak Japanese, but have never been to Hokkaido, it seems like an obvious choice.  I can also, change my travel plans with relatively little sunk cost.  A few questions:

 

1.  Is there enough interesting skiing (off-piste, powder, but inbounds) at the various resorts to keep a solo skier busy for two weeks?  Obviously, I'd like to do as much backcountry as possible, but since I'm alone that means meeting people or hiring guides.  I'm not adverse to the latter, but it is expensive and thus would probably be limited to 4 or maybe 5 days.

 

2.  Given that I speak Japanese, vastly prefer traditional Japanese accommodation/culture to hanging out with Australians/English speakers, and am more focused on skiing than nightlife (but still want to get out a bit, including onsen), where would be recommended to stay?

 

3.  Rough idea of how to break up 12 or so days of skiing (last two weeks of January) between the various resorts/backcountry (assume 4 or so days of hiring a guide for backcountry).

 

Anything else I should know?  Is the season so far there worth leaving Tahoe (which is getting hammered) for?  The other option is to stay in the area and ski Squaw, Mammoth and Kirkwood (my home resort) for the two weeks.

 

Moderator note: moved to International Zone (outside North America)


Edited by onnel - 12/26/15 at 11:45pm
post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by onnel View Post
 

I had been planning on going to France to ski in January, but at this point it would be insane to leave Tahoe for Europe.  That said, I still want to take a trip and thus have been looking at alternatives.  Since I speak Japanese, but have never been to Hokkaido, it seems like an obvious choice.  I can also, change my travel plans with relatively little sunk cost.  A few questions:

 

1.  Is there enough interesting skiing (off-piste, powder, but inbounds) at the various resorts to keep a solo skier busy for two weeks?  Obviously, I'd like to do as much backcountry as possible, but since I'm alone that means meeting people or hiring guides.  I'm not adverse to the latter, but it is expensive and thus would probably be limited to 4 or maybe 5 days.

 

2.  Given that I speak Japanese, vastly prefer traditional Japanese accommodation/culture to hanging out with Australians/English speakers, and am more focused on skiing than nightlife (but still want to get out a bit, including onsen), where would be recommended to stay?

 

3.  Rough idea of hour to break up 12 or so days of skiing (last two weeks of January) between the various resorts/backcountry (assume 4 or so days of hiring a guide for backcountry).

 

Anything else I should know?  Is the season so far there worth leaving Tahoe (which is getting hammered) for?  The other option is to stay in the area and ski Squaw, Mammoth and Kirkwood (my home resort) for the two weeks.

 

Moderator note: moved to International Zone (outside North America)

There's enough interesting skiing and it's dumping snow here at the moment. Given that you want more of a Japanese experience maybe look at around Asahikawa and Furano, Asahidake is great, Kamui has some fun runs. Furano just changed their tree skiing policy to be more open as well. Teine in Sapporo is good too. Maybe start Sapporo, go central Hokkaido for a week, then have a look around Niseko for a few days (it really is great)

 

I'm really not sure about finding ski buddies in Japanese, if you came to Niseko and stayed in one of the lodges you'd find people to ski with pretty easily, they'd be english speaking though. 

post #3 of 9
Excuse me! Could you explain more about new rules in Furano? I didn't find anything in your website.
post #4 of 9

For backcountry touring in central Hokkaido or guiding around Furano, browse John Morrell's site. The Powderhounds website will also give an overview of places to consider. My own list would probably be Niseko - Moiwa - Chisenupuri, Rusutsu, Kiroro, Furano, Sapporo Teine, Kamui, Tomamu. Tokachidake is supposed to be an amazing experience (haven't done it myself) but is skinning only, no lifts. Some of these places (Kiroro) will keep an accomplished skier occupied for only a day, others (Niseko area) will keep you busy for weeks and weeks. If you speak Japanese, you have a wide range of ryokan accommodation available, many with in-house onsens. You could try one week based in the Niseko area and one based on Furano.

post #5 of 9

Another consideration: many accommodations and guides in Niseko may already be booked up for late January by now, so a trip more focused on central Hokkaido might make sense, with a few days in Niseko toward the end. Finding a few bits of local knowledge can be important to fully enjoy many of these places -- for example, for advanced skiers, on-piste skiing at Rusutsu isn't too exciting, but in January the off-piste tree lines are fantastic. Similar considerations apply to Kamui and Tomamu.

post #6 of 9

Furano has now set up an out-of-bounds gate system, making it a much more appealing destination for off-piste skiing.

post #7 of 9

Unfortunately, because of a policy change at Kiroro, visitors to Hokkaido might want to consider crossing it off their short list of places to ski. Access to off-piste powder and tree skiing is now limited to members of their "Mountain Club," which costs JPY8000 to join, almost the price of two five-hour lift tickets. The club is probably a good deal for locals who ski there regularly, but for skiers who visit just once or twice the new rules seem an expensive inconvenience.

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJSailor View Post

Furano has now set up an out-of-bounds gate system, making it a much more appealing destination for off-piste skiing.

I saw three closed gates yesterday at Furano. But plenty of inbound powder, especially around "Premium Zone" skiers left after getting off Kitanimine 6 person gondola. ZP closed by 1400, so go there first. You can also bootpack up 5-10 minutes, see photo below.



We were literally the last on Link Lift at 1530, along with a patroller. Before the rope begins on th left off the chair, fantastic untracked knee deep powder through the trees on last run. Liftie swept us as the last three off the mountain. Very limited night skiing after 1600, we were in a hurry to get to onsen at the Prince Hotel and driving to Asahikawa.

No lines (except first gondola at Furano Peak, 10 minutes), good visibility, great terrain, yummy food at 2F Kitanomine gondola base. Had my best pow day ever w/ 12 and 16 yo boarders nephew&niece.
Edited by Rainbow Jenny - 1/6/16 at 4:20pm
post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by CJSailor View Post
 

Unfortunately, because of a policy change at Kiroro, visitors to Hokkaido might want to consider crossing it off their short list of places to ski. Access to off-piste powder and tree skiing is now limited to members of their "Mountain Club," which costs JPY8000 to join, almost the price of two five-hour lift tickets. The club is probably a good deal for locals who ski there regularly, but for skiers who visit just once or twice the new rules seem an expensive inconvenience.


A follow-up on the above post: Visitors should check with Kiroro as their exact policy seems to have changed again -- or at least throughout the season different visitors were told different things. Access to the off-piste areas is not restricted to club members after all. However, they do ask everyone to buy a different pass and file a trip plan (just a very minor inconvenience). Ask carefully before paying for your pass.

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