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Cat Skiing near Niseko / Day trip to other resorts

Discussion in 'Japan' started by faceshotss, Jan 16, 2018.

  1. faceshotss

    faceshotss Hard Yards

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    Hi Guys,

    I will be in Niseko from 2-9th February. I’m interested in doing a day trip Cat Skiing.

    I know I can do Chisenpuri for a day, however it looks kind of small at a vertical of about 280m.

    Has anyone done cat Skiing here and/or do you have recommendations for other places close to Niseko for a day trip?

    Lastly is there anywhere else you would recommend over Rusutsu for a resort day trip?

    Thanks.
     
  2. nrcd

    nrcd Hard Yards

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    I did a day trip to Kiroro last Thursday with a Whiteroom tours guide. Pretty amazing day. The difference in snow quality and depth between Kiroro was amazing - even before the snow Niseko got on Thursday and Friday nights, Kiroro was deeper, and there was no rain crust anywhere.

    Highly recommended, and thanks to Ross at Whiteroom for an awesome day out (no affiliation other than a satisfied, and repeat, customer).
     
    billykate likes this.
  3. kylep

    kylep Cage rattler Ski Pass: Gold

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    Alternative to cat ski is a little operator called Par’s Pow Paradise who use snowmobiles for the same thing. They pick up from niseko accoms
     
  4. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    These are the Cat Skiing options:

    From the feedback I’m hearing the best bet for reasonable vert is the Shimamaki 2 day option, but it’s pretty exxy!

    Resort day trip:
    Kiroro
    Definitely.
    But make sure you stop at the Yamanaka Dairy on the way back for an ice cream.
     
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  5. sourmash

    sourmash One of Us

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    A couple of notes:

    Weiss Cats is very flat terrain, you can see it from Hanazono if you look west
    Otoe is awesome, but probably ~3 hours drive north of Niseko beyond Sapporo near Fukugawa, http://www.nacadventures.jp/en/cat-ski/niseko-private-cat-ski-resort
    Niseko Photography is same as Big Wave operation?? ~30mins away in the Yamanashi range, Short-ish runs, but good terrain, see http://nisekophotography.com/featured-tours/niseko-cat-skiing/

    For other day trips beside Kiroro or Rusutsu, try Kokusai (~1.5 hours) or Teine (~2 hours) - the road can be bit sketchy in bad weather in the early morning. Last season, Kiroro, Kokusai and Teine received a LOT more snow than Niseko, not sure on the setup this year. Rusutsu I tend to save for when you know upper lifts at Niseko will be on wind hold.
     
    blowfin likes this.
  6. pedub

    pedub One of Us

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    Kiroro yes. Kokusai for sure it's just over the back of Kiroro and its more sheltered, I've never seen the gondola close except for maintenance one day. You need to look hard for the goods though. Nice BC to the skiers right on gondola, but caution definitely needed, much is south facing and all run out into a narrow creek, wouldn't want to be buried there.
    Last year it was full of people from Niseko because they weren't getting any snow as mentioned above. Season prior to that, I swear I was the only gaijin there. Very popular with locals, weekends can be pretty insane on the piste (don't bother)

    Does anyone know is Iwanai an actual resort with lifts??? That could be another 'resort' option
     
  7. Olgreg

    Olgreg One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    @sourmash @faceshotss Niseko photography is one of about three booking agents for the cat operation outside Kutchan. I can vouch for the fact that they look after customers well, for example, when I had a snow bridge crumble under me and ended up in a creek last year miles from anywhere. That cat tour has some genuinely steep terrain although short runs.
    @faceshotss rusutsu is always worth a day. Like all these resorts, it has become a lot more popular, but there are still some great tree runs to be found.
     
    LMB likes this.
  8. sourmash

    sourmash One of Us

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    Agreed re Kokusai, you need to enter the off piste area to skiers right of the gondola with caution - it's easy to stray too far right and suffer a long walk out down near the creek! Personally, I thought Kokusai was fairly limited, especially if invaded by groups of guided gaijin - and in comparison, there was a lot more on offer at Teine Highlands.
     
  9. pedub

    pedub One of Us

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    I think you are right. Teine is better terrain for sure, but Kokusai just gets more snow? and very wind sheltered, but if the sun is out the snow can get heavy, one sunny day I saw multiple slides in the Kokusai BC leading into the creek :eek: got out of there fast
    But actually there are many good lines to be found in between the piste, although you'll have to duck the rope

    Anyway, I like both :)
     
  10. CanadianOnTheRocks

    CanadianOnTheRocks Hard Yards

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    Just rode with Big Wave last week and would recommend. They can also be booked through Rising Sun guides. Runs are about 200m vert and you should get 8 or 9 in a day. The terrain is nice, steep and technical - pillows for those who want them. Should note that some of the runs had a traverse out - even with skiers setting a nice track some snowboarders struggled a bit.

    Have gone with Iwanai in 2016, very much low angle terrain - an abandoned old ski hill. From what I understand Weiss and Chisenpurri are very similar to this. They would be a good intro to riding powder, but on the right day in Niseko that is available in the resort and lift accessed sidecountry.
     
  11. pedub

    pedub One of Us

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    Is it actually still abandoned?
    Because they are advertising lifts
     
  12. Gimp

    Gimp One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thought it said Gaijinfree skiing at first.
     
  13. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    I think it’s just the one lift.
    Use that and then hike above.

    @Any and @Chondro were out there recently.
     
  14. sourmash

    sourmash One of Us

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    As per LMB, Facebook https://www.facebook.com/iwanairesort/ shows that they have only one lower lift running this season, but plan to open more in future. The Cat ski operation is their focus and it looks like they have closed the area to touring, see https://iwanairesort.com/ski/
     
  15. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ooops!
    Closed to touring.
    #noonetoldtheboys
    #ifatreefallsinthewoods...
    LOL
     
  16. Chondro

    Chondro One of Us

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    Iwanai cat ski would be much better then chis IMO.
    I did chis last year, the traversing sucked and the runs weren't much vertical although it was still a fun day.

    Hiked Iwanai with @Any this season, you are told not to use their runs as its for cat ski operations but technically they cant stop you, the vert is good tho and youll get some decent runs in i think.
    It does receive less snow than niseko being different facing i think? but still coverage was pretty damn good.
    Saw them running their catski while hiking they said they where booked out, and it was 2 or 3 skiiers and a guide.

    From what i hear niseko photography is good and po's powder paradise.
    If a big dump tho i cant see why iwani wouldn't be good. great views if the visibility is there too
     
  17. CanadianOnTheRocks

    CanadianOnTheRocks Hard Yards

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    In 2016 Iwani was like riding blue runs - first chair on a powder day. Guide would not take us to any steeper or more interesting terrain, though there was some around from what I could see. Perhaps things have changed? I can definately say the Rising Sun / Big Wave will take you to better terrain and they also appear to have a much larger area they access with the cat.

    I would like to give Shimamaki a go next year, looks like a good thing.
     
  18. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Were you in a mixed ability group?
    Was there any snowpack risks that he was taking into account?
    Or just no reason for it except ‘that’s the way we do it’?
     
  19. CanadianOnTheRocks

    CanadianOnTheRocks Hard Yards

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    At the time they were sticking to the pistes of the old resort - that's just the way they did it. They didn't require clients to carry any gear. Maybe they have opened more terrain since.

    Not saying it wasnt fun, still a great experience... but rising sun was much much better for those after steeper terrain.

    Good point about the group ability level - always a risk when joining a tour. That or slow snowboarders on the traverses

     
  20. BDL

    BDL Hard Yards

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    Weiss (Hanazono Powder) is great for the beginner to intermediate or someone who wants the private hill experience. It is also one of the closest to Hirafu. Warning: If it snows more than 15cms, you may be straight lining it all day.

    Iwanai has much longer runs and was usually full of repeat Japanese when it was 18-24,000yen/day a few years ago. Despite the recent media blitz that may show professionals claiming it's "the best" and the new cats, the terrain remains the sam, which is perfect for intermediate powder skiers. We did two separate days there many years ago and saw potential to be sure, if they were legally allowed to access and "sell" the back bowls. As it was, our advanced to expert ability clients were not keen on returning. They don't require you to wear avalanche gear, which may say something about the steepness. Price has changed slightly though!

    Big Wave may be the smallest but they do offer some of the steepest cat accessed terrain in the immediate area and there is enough terrain for about 4-5 days worth of skiing even if it doesn't snow. This is a great chance to hit some pillows, get some photos and ride in old school Japanese made snow cats (why did they stop building these things!?) . Cats are small allowing a chance to make a private group, pretty key to having the ultimate day. Two other companies sell Big Wave trips and provide thier own guides but booking direct may give you the best options. Runs are short (200m vertical for now) but can be quite steep if you want.

    The House of Powder at Chisenupuri fits somewhere in between all the above. There is no cat accessed avalanche terrain but if you go for a 20-45min hike out of the bc gate, you'll find plenty. Cat runs are 275m vertical with drop offs and pick ups at the same spot every time. The record last season was 17runs or 4675 vertical meters. There are PLENTY of pillow lines and natural jumps to keep even expert skiers and boarders stoked all day. Best part is that the day is unguided, only patrolled and guided when requested. The hotspring that you literally ski across is included in the package making this totally unique. It's also the lowest priced option.

    Shimamaki Snowcats is a whole different animal and worth the price of admission for the experience alone. The price includes accommodation, incredible food and the real Japan! Longest vertical run at the moment is 850m but normal tree skiing is about 450m. Options next season will include fishing for steelhead salmon and winter surfing if you're crazy.
     
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