Alpine touring on Hokkaido, Japan
If you’re tired of traditional ski resorts, join mountain guide Stefan Palm and ski on Hokkaido in Japan. Insane amounts of nice, dry powder snow often fall here, usually with a snow depth in January of around 3-5 metres.
Japan has several good ski areas, but the best skiing is found on the northern island of Hokkaido. It can be extremely cold during the winter, when cold winds from Siberia blast in over the island, bringing with it heaps of snow. The trip begins with a few days of skiing in and around the ski resort Niseko, a well-known town, at least among Japanese, and a good starting point for off-piste skiing and ski touring. Huge amounts of nice, dry snow fall here, and the snow depth in January/February is often around 3-5 metres. It snows approximately 15 metres per season and the town gets more snow than, for example, Whistler in Canada. The snow quality is world-class and renowned among powder enthusiasts.
The ski area itself is actually comprised of five resorts, of which the three biggest are Hirafu, Higashiyama and Niseko Annupuri.
The Niseko region is about 2.5 hours from Sapporo airport on Hokkaido’s southwestern corner. The ski area itself is actually comprised of five resorts, of which the three biggest are Hirafu, Higashiyama and Niseko Annupuri. All three are located close to each other and linked together directly under the peak of Annupuri Mountain. This means that you can reach large areas from 38 lifts and find several runs with over 1,000 metres of vertical drop. But with climbing skins under your skis, the mountain opens up even more. Here, there are more than 30 km2 of off-piste skiing with nice bowls, gullies, and fascinatingly beautiful glade skiing. During the days at Niseko, you will also attempt to climb the majestic volcanic peak Mount Yōtei, weather permitting. The peak is at 1,898 metres, which perhaps doesn’t sound that impressive. However, the surrounding landscape lies only between 200 and 300 m.a.s.l. and the mountain itself is a real challenge because you have to climb 1,600 vertical metres in bottomless powder to reach the cone-shaped peak.
You can enjoy the après-ski in the hot springs and taste the local beer while you’re at it.
After a couple days in the Niseko area, we travel onwards to the mountain surrounding the town of Furano. Here, you will find the biggest massifs on Hokkaido and the area lies in the impressive Daisetsu-Zan National Park. The park itself is located right in the middle of Hokkaido and the snow is usually very dry. The landscape is incredibly stunning and the tours will take your breath away, in more than one way.
We stay in Japanese mountain huts in both Niseko and Furano and help ourselves to Japanese delicacies. The mountain huts are clean and tastefully decorated, and the service is very good. We promise good food and that sushi won’t be the only thing on the menu. You can enjoy the après-ski in the hot springs and taste the local beer while you’re at it. During your stay in Japan, you will also encounter the special culture on Hokkaido and take home a true travel experience.
The trip is led by mountain guide Stefan Palm, one of Sweden’s most experienced mountain guides, with the whole world as his office. Stefen gladly returns to the Japanese mountains and its magnificent snow. We hope that you’ll come along!
The trip day for day
Day 1 Sapporo – Niseko resorts
After a long flight, we meet in Sapporo and travel by bus to Niseko Resort. After getting settled into a great Japanese mountain hut, we eat a nice welcome dinner. Before it’s time for bed, Stefan goes through the upcoming days in more detail.
Day 2 – 5. Ski touring around Niseko
We begin the first day with a run-through of our safety equipment and get the group together with some skiing. Several days of amazing off-piste skiing and ski touring in the area follow. If the weather is good we will attempt to ski up and down Mount Yōtei. We leave for the mountain hut Hakunginso in the Furano region. On the way, we stop and visit Hokkaido’s oldest and largest sake manufacturer.
Day 6 – 8. Ski touring around Furano
Ski touring and off-piste skiing around Mount Asahidake, the highest peak in Hokkaido (2,290 m). We travel back to Sapporo on the evening of day 9, a journey of about 3 hours. We have accommodations at a good hotel and end the trip with a festive dinner at one of Sapporo’s best restaurants.
Day 10. Sapporo – Europe
We leave for the airport and fly home.