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First time skiing Niseko tips

Discussion in 'Japan' started by Nisekotrip, Dec 2, 2019.

  1. Nisekotrip

    Nisekotrip First Runs

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    Hi,

    My family of 3 (52, 27 and 23yo) has booked to stay in Niseko from Jan2-7 in 2020 and it will be our very first time skiing! We would really appreciate if anyone has advice about the ski schools there and which slopes/mountain area we should go to/ get lift passes for! Our hotel suggested private lessons with Niseko Black which is 80 000 yen for a full day lesson - does anyone have any other suggestions? We will be hiring ski gear from Rhythm. We are staying at Hyatt Hotel in Hirafu. Thank you so much for your help.
     
  2. Hermannator

    Hermannator One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    You're staying at the Hyatt... get the concierge to sort you out...

    Suggest perhaps you go for either a 'group' or 'group private' lesson in 2-2.5h blocks.
    Being 1st timers you won't need to stray from the 'ace quad' 'Holiday pair' / 'king pair' / 'ace pair' lift for first couple of days.

    So go for the '12 point' pass for the first couple of days

    ('Ace quad' for 2 pts, the rest are 1pt.)
     
  3. Any

    Any One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    For most enjoyment lessons are a must.
    Private lessons are probably the fastest way to improve. But it is expensive. and im not sure, but its maybe a waste on absolute first time adults. adults are gumby uncoordinated slow learners, including myself :)
    Group lessons are the norm, and still get you there tho. Hirafu's group lesson ski schools (that i know of) are GoSnow, NBS, and Niseko Grand Hirafu Snow School.
    GoSnow is probably the biggest school in all of Niseko, NBS (ski japan) is pretty big too.
    I'd probably suggest lessons every day. you'll get to know your group and instructor. but maybe some half days later on for some non-lesson downtime to go and practice what you've been told.

    GoSnow is based at the gondola, and starts first timers on a magic carpet, which is super easy. Then the Holiday Pair Lift, probably the Hirafu Gondola after that.
    Hirafu Snow School is based at the .base building, and will probably start you on the Ace Family Quad Lift #1 and then Ace Quad Lift #2 Center 4.
    I've never bought a points pass before, but I think its a good suggestion from @Hermannator because your first laps will be super slow. I don't think the magic carpet even requires a lift pass.
    You can see a map of Hirafu and the lifts here https://www.niseko.ne.jp/en/map/grand-hirafu/ which includes the number of points per run.

    I would avoid walking uphill with all the gear. Its torture. Walking across hill isn't so bad tho.
    There is shuttle bus transport around town, but if I can easily walk to the lifts I almost always do that instead.
    If you go Hirafu ski school, for your first day you'd want transport up to .base (there are public shuttles but Hyatt probably have their own private ones). But after your first day you could just walk across 300-400m ish to the base of the Ace Family Quad Lift #1 and take the lift up.
    If you go GoSnow, same again you'd want transport your first day. But afterwards you could walk to Ace Family Quad, and then depending on your progression take Ace Quad #2 and ski to the gondola, or, walk across the welcome center carpark and take the stairs up to the base of King Pair Lift #1 and just ski down to the Gondola. note, for someone on their 2nd day, skiing from top of ace2 to gondola is probably quite a task and could be quite time consuming, you wouldn't want to be late for lesson.

    Rhythm opened a fancy new rentals building only yesterday. It's where those 7 trees are to the right of "welcome center" on that map. Maybe walk there and they can provide transport back im pretty sure.
    Rhythm's old building is still open, not sure if they're renting from there or not. Its uh, the green roof under Hotel Niseko Alpen on that map. There are other better maps, that one has streets that dont even exist lol. You could walk there and back from Hyatt easy. Warning, you walk past hot chef on the way. Its Japanese law that you must buy fried chicken if you walk past a hot chef, lawson or 711.
    note, you don't rent thermals, goggles, gloves, socks (need to go up above your shin), balaclavas, facemasks or helmets. thought I'd mention it because I often see absolute first timers turn up without. might need to do some shopping when you get here or before you head out.

    I'm not sure if ski schools require helmets, or if that's just for kids only.
    also, if you train, do not take the train to Hirafu! someone's gonna die out there some day, no joke. get off at Kutchan.

    You should read through https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/niseko-2020.84268/
    and the monster thread https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/japan-2020-planning-and-stuff.83974/
    for more information. Its ok to geek out and read about everything. Maybe even familiarize yourself with the niseko united trail map.

    Most importantly, just remember that if you're not crashing, you're not trying hard enough :)
     
    #3 Any, Dec 2, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
    'H' Jones, Chalkie, skifree and 2 others like this.
  4. Ozgirl

    Ozgirl Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    Hyatt House?

    You are staying in a great location with good coffee!

    I agree, not sure Private is the best way to spend your $$$

    Its a straight walk across from Hyatt house to the ace family lift. you will be fine. I don't think Hyatt house have a shuttle.

    Rhythm is great for rentals. but you will want to take a shuttle there and back.
     
  5. Telemark Phat

    Telemark Phat Pass the butter Ski Pass: Gold

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    NBS also does group lessons.
     
    Any likes this.
  6. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Hyatt house is my neighbour.

    There is a Rhythm hire desk inside the building (well was up until I was last there in September, so should still be there).

    Hyatt House have shuttles - use them. The bus is crowded at that time of year, and walking even the shortish distance to the family lift in ski boots when you’re not used to it is pure torture and you’re at risk of slipping over as you get used to them and juggling gear.

    Points passes are a great idea if you might be a one lift Charlie, or if each run takes you an age to do. Start with a points pass and if you find you go through it quickly do the math on a day pass or consecutive day pass. You can carry a spare points pass in one of those RFID blocking sleeves) if you’re worried about running out mid lesson.

    Have fun!!
    And remember every that every gun skier you see on the hill was also a beginner once.
     
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  7. Any

    Any One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    I was talking to someone just before, and it turns out GoSnow have a presence at the Ace Family Quad with another magic carpet there too.
     
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  8. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    They sure do.
    Used to be the NBS stronghold but GoSnow have managed to get base locations with magic carpets at both bases and also lift priority.
     
  9. Lucky Pete

    Lucky Pete One of Us

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    Only ski a couple hours each day for the 1st few days. Onsen, relax in afternoons. Will GREATLY reduce your chances of injury and you will improve the quickest.
     
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  10. sourmash

    sourmash One of Us

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  11. Annabuzzy

    Annabuzzy Part of the Furniture Ski Pass: Gold

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    I don’t think Go Snow are the ants pants, but they’re certainly fine. Good maybe even. What they are though is the dominant ski school at Hirafu with priority lift access generally denied to other schools. I would use them.

    I also think half day group lessons for the week are optimum. I just think skiing as part of a group of similar ability level is a better, more fun way to learn. Not only do you learn to get better, but you enjoy the shared experience of the group, and make new friends (if only for the week) along the way. If you only do a half day you still get to spend the other half of the day with the family.

    I love the cafe at Hyatt House. For that reason it’s possibly the prime location in Hirafu
     
  12. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Green Farm Cafe?
    Yeah, they rock.
    Good people.
    Great coffee
    Power points along the window benches.
    Excellent food options.
    The Wagu Burger is outstanding.
    Often crazy busy in Jan and Feb.
     
  13. Nisekotrip

    Nisekotrip First Runs

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    Wow thank you so much everyone for all of your advice and tips! We appreciate it so much!
     
  14. Nisekotrip

    Nisekotrip First Runs

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    Can anyone recommend either White liner bus versus the public Niseko bus/Chuo bus to get to the Hirafu Welcome Centre? Is there a difference in comfort or time as the price is more for white liner? Also if anyone has any favourite restaurants to book early on in Niseko that would be amazing because we love food! Will definitely check out the Green Farm Cafe :D
     
  15. Any

    Any One of Us Ski Pass: Silver

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    you get what you pay for.
    white liner is a bus liner. comfy seats, you load up your luggage underneath, sit back in comfy recliner seats, curtains, dimly lit so you can sleep, and eventually arrive.
    public buses are public buses. no luggage storage, plastic seats, fluorescent lighting, and stop at every bus stop between you and your destination.
     
  16. Nisekotrip

    Nisekotrip First Runs

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    Thank you for that! Will definitely pay the extra :D
     
  17. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    I’ve always been happy with Whiteliner except the one time when sons flight was delayed and they moved him to a later bus AND charged him again. If I’ve had flight delays in the past they just rebooked it, no charge.

    There is also Niseko Resort Liner, it’s similar to the Whiteliner but it goes via Rusutsu first, so takes a little longer.
     
  18. MrT

    MrT Hard Yards

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  19. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    HME rock. Most instructors are dual cert, minimum level 3 and have some level of formal avalanche or guide training, and the majority come back year upon year. The term “you get what you pay for” runs true. They’re not cheap but the cost/benefit ratio usually stacks up. There are other companies in Niseko that run on the same philosophy but I can’t personally vouch for them as I haven’t used them because I just keep going back to HME for all my private guiding and instruction needs for myself and others.

    I did go through Black Diamond for my AST1 - they were excellent and would also use them again if HME weren’t available.

    Edited to add:
    Both Japan Powder Connection and Niseko Academy also have similarly high standards for their instructors, and great people involved. (Just trying to be more well rounded in my praise)
     
    #19 LMB, Dec 12, 2019
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2019
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  20. Nisekotrip

    Nisekotrip First Runs

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    Thanks again to everyone for your help. We just got back and just an update to help future skiers from our trip! We took lessons from GoSnow at the family base and learnt on their magic carpet and got to do the Ace Family Quad Lift! We had two days of full lessons —> by the second day we went down the slope by ourselves and just did our own thing for the next two days skiing. I would not recommend buying their super saver package as it was a hassle and not cheaper than just renting your own gear from Rhythm and buying your lift passes yourself. Our experience with GoSnow was mixed —> our first instructor we would give a 7/10 (didn’t give much feedback, not as interactive with students) but our second one was a 9/10 so it depends who you get! We were lucky because we booked group lessons but both times it ended up just being the 3 of us! We took the Whiteliner bus and that was pleasant. We had a better experience renting gear from Rhythm than Yamasport.
     
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  21. LuciferStarS

    LuciferStarS First Runs

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    I traveled to Europe this winter and it was awesome. I'll share with you one photo. My internet is slow, so I can't share more.
     

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  22. brissmith

    brissmith Early Days

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    I recently have returned from a ski trip in Japan (not Niseko) and too a group ski lesson. There was normally five in the lesson but it was slow times and there was only two. Unfortunately the second person was a much, much slower learner than I was and while I was progressing quickly, the instructor had to spend alot of time with her. So I wish I had splurged on a half day private lesson and then backed it up with an intermediate group lesson. I guess it might depend on how quickly you think you will get the hang of it. I wouldn't go for a full day lesson.
     
  23. SnowArt

    SnowArt First Runs

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    Hi everyone. Does anyone know at what wind speed do they close gondola's and chair lifts?
     
  24. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty! Ski Pass: Gold

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    Chair and direction dependent.
     
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  25. blutek

    blutek One of Us

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    so you can get, for example, top lifts only closed in all areas, or Annupuri ski area only closed (with crowded shuttle buses to Hirafu). Niseko does get strong winds like most alpine areas. Most ski resorts would close lifts in 60-80 km winds but as said, it will depend on wind direction.
     
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