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Hakuba tree skiing

Discussion in 'Japan' started by meen, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. meen

    meen Hard Yards

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    Hi All,

    I have booked a trip to Hakuba in Feburary next year. I want to hit some great off-piste tree runs while I'm there like in the fenced off areas at Niseko. But I'm afraid that my 8 day lift pass is going to be taken from me because no tree skiing is allowed. Does anyone have any experience with having their lift pass taken at Hakuba? Are they really strict? Is it easy to be caught? And am I best off buying single or two day passes so that if I lose it I'm only losing one or two days rather than 8 days?

    Also I have heard that they now have an option at 47 to purchase a tree skiing pass on top of the day pass for about 1000 Yen. Does anyone know if this is true?

    By the way, can anyone suggest a good place to find some great tree runs in the Hakuba resorts. ie. what lift to take and where to drop in, etc. I have been before and I couldn't seem to find many. Mind you I was only there for four days and it was icy as hell so we weren't realy looking.

    Thanks people.

    Meen
     
  2. mjmmjm

    mjmmjm First Runs

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    I was there in February this year and went through a number of out of bounds areas and never had my pass confiscated. Having said that a number of other Aussies who were staying at the same place had their pass taken so it's certainly not without risk. Hasn't stopped me from going back this year though. Unfortunately I don't know the mountain or the lifts/runs well enough so I can't recommend any specific trails unfortunately.
     
  3. andrew7

    andrew7 Hard Yards

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    Ditto- there in Jan and 13 days of big snow skiing. Japanese never head out into the trees, just be discrete as if you're blatant or unlucky ski patrol will take your pass (or yell at you in Japanese). It is a bizarre risk averse approach to close access to the usually perfectly spaced trees but be careful and you can cash in.

    Yes, re 47- I think it is called the "extreme zone" but basically when it operates (not always running) you can access a number of runs which are usually closed.

    I found Cortina and Tsugaike the best for off piste/tree skiing. Enjoy!
     
  4. TJ

    TJ One of Us

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    Talk to the people where you are staying and I am sure they can help you. There is no ban on tree skiing in Hakuba. If you drop into certain areas like anywhere in the world your lift pass will be confiscated.
     
  5. Nozawaman

    Nozawaman A Local

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    Why buy an 8 day pass in the first place ????
    There are other discounts available at Hakuba , which include lunch, and if you get busted you only lose a day pass....
     
  6. Cham

    Cham One of Us

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    Purchase daily passes. It's more flexible and you can pick and choose which hill you will ride for the day and if you get stiffed by patrol you just buy another ticket. No great loss.
     
  7. fattwins

    fattwins One of Us

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    Even an 8 day ticket is basically 8 one day tickets. You get a vochure.
     
  8. fattwins

    fattwins One of Us

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    And PS Sandy thanks for coming to the HCC game on Saturday!
     
  9. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    [​IMG]

    It was a lot of fun!!!
     
    #9 Sandy, Jun 21, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  10. Cuppa

    Cuppa A Local

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    Are the patrol concerned about tree wells? Is that why the areas are closed?
     
  11. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    How many wickets did yah get Slinger?
     
    #11 Donza, Jun 21, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  12. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    #12 Sandy, Jun 21, 2010
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  13. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    Another man of the match performance?
    wow.
    am a bit envious...i'd love to play a bit of cricket in Hakuba...
     
    #13 Donza, Jun 21, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  14. meen

    meen Hard Yards

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    Thanks for the help people.

    Yeah I had a vague memory of the vouchers that you present at each resort to get your day pass. I guess theres no real danger of losing the entire 8 days then.

    As for my other question, can any suggest what resort/chair/run to get to these epic tree runs I've heard so much about.
     
  15. TJ

    TJ One of Us

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    Sorry not here I don't. As I said before talk to the people at your accommodation. If they don't know then you probably made a bad choice to stay there.
     
    #15 TJ, Jun 21, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  16. TJ

    TJ One of Us

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    Sandy took the prize wicket. A very good debut indeed. Bit of a drive for you every week though. I'm sure we can let you off training once in a while also.
     
    #16 TJ, Jun 21, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  17. Mark102

    Mark102 A Local

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    Meen, most people won't disclose their favourite runs on the internet it's likely that it'll be tracked faster after that. As TJ said, your lodge owner or other people staying at your lodge should fill you in on where to go. [​IMG]
     
    #17 Mark102, Jun 22, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  18. Annago

    Annago Hard Yards Ski Pass: Gold

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    Try a search eg. Cortina Trees. Think you will find some good footage.
     
  19. fattwins

    fattwins One of Us

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    I would consider getting avie gear for Hakuba. You might meet people that are doing some things where you will need it.
     
  20. damian

    damian A Local

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    Take a look at the page linked below, it maps out the areas in Hakuba that are considered out of bounds - pretty much everything that is a tree is pink on this map. But a number of resorts don't really care as much as others, or turn a blind eye to various areas. Hakuba 47/Goryu are the most strict. But do not expect freedom like you may be familiar with in Niseko or other international destinations.

    And if you will excuse the huge and rather blatant plug for my friends who own a ski lodge here in Hakuba - if you want to ski trees to your door, stay at Hakuba House. Probably the most unique foreign owned lodge in town for that reason.

    Or, think differently to everyone else and ditch the main area of Hakuba and go for Cortina down the valley - it has the only true liberal tree policy in Hakuba and plenty of tree skiing without any need to hide from patrol. I highly recommend it.

    The map - it isn't pretty but it is fact, and I am not one for hiding facts. Almost everything is off-limits which means that the experience you have comes down to how you approach it. And I support what Fattwins said as it is a very fine line between exploring some trees and suddenly ending up in genuine avalanche country without knowing any better. And be very wary of advice that you get from lodge owners - most know far less than they think they do (no offense intended, just that visitors often significantly over-weight the "local aura". It is a common component of risk decisions that go wrong in the backcountry)

    http://www.vill.hakuba.nagano.jp/english/top/local.html
     
    #20 damian, Jun 25, 2010
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  21. Tim Craig

    Tim Craig First Runs

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    Go ski cortina at least one day. If it isn't roped off and there isn't a closed sign then it is fair game. Actually don't go ski cortina, everyone should not ski cortina, it's no good [​IMG]
    Happo seems a lot more lax about off piste than 47. 47 seem very strict, especially on the goryu side.
    Use some common sense and if you think it looks sketchy or especially if you don't know don't go in there. Trees don't necessarily mean there is no avvie danger.
    Go on a guided BC tour as well if you really want to do the right thing and get some good skiing in too.
    47 have opened a few of their good tree areas up with the black diamond club. It was my understanding you had to attend a lecture to become a member then each day go and sign in and be given a yellow armband to wear and then giveback when you sign out at the end of the day. I believe it is all in japanese though and you need to have someone who can translate for you (someone correct me if that's not right). You then can drop into the trees in the route 1, 2 an 3 area, but youre meant to enter through the designated gate. I saw a guy in a reindeer suit on snowblades with a yellow armband cruising around one day this february!
    As others have stated try and team up with people who know their way around and that will be best.
     
    #21 Tim Craig, Jun 25, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2013
  22. timmyhugecans

    timmyhugecans One of Us

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    The double black club is a couple of hour course, u need a buddy and a translator(if u don't speak Japanese). It allows you to ride the designated trees on the 47 side,when they says its ok. u have to check in with your buddy, get the arm band then play. Some good trees though.
    Oh and Damien, I can ride from the top of Goryu and 47 and take the board of on the front steps. So when you say unique... .I guess you mean to Happo.
     
  23. damian

    damian A Local

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    Hi Timmy, yes, you have a great place there. Can you reach it completely off-road down through the woods from the gondola station? I've always been tempted to come and hike that big hill near to you on the mega storm days. Just for fun.

    The problem with Hakuba banning 90% of tree skiing in or next to resort boundaries is that no one ever learns to differentiate between avalanche closure and otherwise pointless closure of trees. This is a problem because (a) people will go there even if it is closed - what other choice does the visitor really have if they want good trees? and (b) some of the closed terrain is closed because it really is bad avalanche terrain that aims directly at beginner runs below.

    It is a bad mix that creates unnatural risk due to poor regulations. Unless they change the regulations the only way to minimise the large unnatural risk is with ever more strict policing, example Goryu taking your photo if you are caught, Happo patrol having yelling and shoving matches with rope duckers and Tsugaike scared to their wits of another fatality.

    Good advice, but for others reading, a word of clarification from someone involved in the local guiding business: don't expect commercial pro guides to take you into the [plentiful] closed terrain in resort boundaries or over resort perimeter ropes. Look at the map I linked to above - if it is pink and illegal, we avoid it. Firstly, because of ethics and secondly because getting pulled up by patrol in a closed area whilst taking good hard earned cash from clients is bad for reputation and business, and, it goes without saying, the client deserves better than a public reprimand. Think about it - if your guide doesn't care about local rules and regulations... what else doesn't he care about? With this in mind: 99% of the time in Hakuba, unlike Niseko, backcountry really does mean backcountry. It isn't supervised off-piste rope ducking with multiple runs near the lifts.

    Personally [and professionally] I wish way more trees were open. But whilst the the majority of tree skiing remains banned in Hakuba I think people should know about it before they come, rather than being misled into believing otherwise. It is better for everyone in the long term.
     
    #23 damian, Jun 29, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2013
  24. smitty484

    smitty484 Old n' Crusty

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    What a great, honest post. Thanks damian.
     
  25. timmyhugecans

    timmyhugecans One of Us

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    Yes it is Good fun, that lil hill Damian, need lots of snow. Planted pines = tight lines and good pitch. Some Fun drops in there also.
     
  26. damian

    damian A Local

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    Timmy - when I lived in your area I used to sometimes hit the hill across the river behind the tennis courts. That was a bit of a jungle.

    Smitty - thanks. I have spoken out like this on the forum before, and will do so again. It will always be better for the valley in the long run if visitors come fully informed and leave happy for having made their decision to come here, rather than misinformed, leaving the valley disappointed and angry, after having handed over their money.
     
  27. smitty484

    smitty484 Old n' Crusty

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    Totally agree and I have read your previous posts on similar topics and always appreciate the honesty.
     
  28. TJ

    TJ One of Us

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    .I am happy to take my guests into the trees here throughout Hakuba and also advise them on good places to go. And I might even drive at 52km along the main road. It's 50 you know, but hey I am such a rebel. I enjoy passing people as they look at a pristine tree run with the rulebook in their hand. You snooze you lose is what they hear through the cloud of pow. What a crazy cowboy I am. Frowned upon by all the locals. (except those that I am out there with. Hmmm)
    So punters there is no need for shovels and probes and silk knickers and avilungs and airbags to have a good time in Hakuba.
    Oh and I am happy for the rules. It means fresh powder for me. There was a rumour in town that I actually wrote them. Mmmwwwhhhaahhha
    Now, Now to pre-empt the onslaught of goodie two shoes feel free to stay within your little rule book. I'm just telling you how we roll.
     
  29. damian

    damian A Local

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    Quoted for posterity.
     
    #29 damian, Jun 30, 2010
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  30. smitty484

    smitty484 Old n' Crusty

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    TJ do you also refund guests who have passes pulled or face expensive rescue efforts because then enter OOB areas on your word?
     
  31. TJ

    TJ One of Us

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    No I don't.
     
  32. Cham

    Cham One of Us

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    Have had the pleasure of dropping some of the best lines with TJ. All the areas he has recommended have always been well beyond safe. He is in a position where he can't afford to have a fatality on his hands. The lines entered are not what you would consider back country.

    As for loosing a pass. You get done...that's your own bad luck. That's the attitude we took when entering these areas. Loosing a pass for some of the best easily accessed lines was a small price to pay. I would happily loose multiple passes in one day to ski those lines. Would I ask TJ to fit the bill....yeah right. I would shout him a beer at the bar instead! A beer he had already paid for!

    Damn those lines were good!
     
    #32 Cham, Jun 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  33. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

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    Looking at that map makes me fairly happy to be on the other side of the range [​IMG]
     
    #33 M_G, Jun 30, 2010
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  34. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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    Thanks for your honesty damain. I would hate to go all the way to Japan and have to look over my shoulder every time I want to SNEAK into the trees. I want to enjoy my holiday not constantly be on the look out for the fun police.
     
  35. Nozawaman

    Nozawaman A Local

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    Reading this thread me too [​IMG]
     
    #35 Nozawaman, Jun 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  36. TJ

    TJ One of Us

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    Hey Fat Boy. I do remember breaking the exact same rules with you over there last season. Ohh and how sweet it was.
    Actually come to think of it, I think I have broken the rules at every resort I have been to.
    Oh well thats the price I pay for chasing powder. I'm going to hell - but I've been to heaven.
     
    #36 TJ, Jun 30, 2010
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  37. smitty484

    smitty484 Old n' Crusty

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    It's all well and good for you to duck ropes and take people with you TJ, if you don't really care and more importantly have the experience and knowledge to back it up. But promoting it to those that don't know the place is a recipe for disaster.
     
  38. fattwins

    fattwins One of Us

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    That map is bad cause it actually has areas that are open marked as closed by some of the resorts.
     
  39. damian

    damian A Local

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    I know a local (Hakuba) Japanese guide who used to take his clients all the way to Myoko when they booked him for nothing more than a fun day of in-bounds off-piste tree skiing using the lifts. Sad but true.

    Cham - awesome that you had some good times in Hakuba, there is a lot to be had.
     
    #39 damian, Jun 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  40. TJ

    TJ One of Us

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    Exactly why I added this post earlier in the thread.
    ------------------------------------------------------
    Originally Posted By: meen
    As for my other question, can any suggest what resort/chair/run to get to these epic tree runs I've heard so much about.

    Sorry not here I don't. As I said before talk to the people at your accommodation. If they don't know then you probably made a bad choice to stay there.
    -----------------------------------------------------
    I am not going to send someone, somewhere they can't handle. I assess everybody from the time they even get here. What gear they have. Where they have skied, how they put their boots on in the drying room. As soon as they put in their first turns on a groomed run you can see what their level is however many also struggle in deep powder. I am not about to throw them into waist deep when their din is set to 6. Like I said before I also drive at 52km/h in a 50 zone. It's against the rules but as my friend Jesus once said, "Those that have never sinned can cast the first stone at the person who gets the first tracks" or something like that.
     
    #40 TJ, Jun 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  41. M_G

    M_G M_G_ = Make skiing great again Ski Pass: Gold

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    We are pretty lucky Damian but of course we don't have the same avi risk as Hakuba. So I can understand why they're a lot stricter over there.

    I'd go insane if having to stay on-piste. The tree runs are what I love most about Myoko.
     
  42. meen

    meen Hard Yards

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    So am I right in assuming that you take people on guided tours around Hakuba resorts TJ, including through trees and off-piste?

    If so what kind of price am I looking per day? I'm travelling with six people if that makes a difference.
     
  43. damian

    damian A Local

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    Was this thread initiated to let you try and demonstrate how awesome you are? I am starting to wonder.

    FYI - most Canadian heli ski places put the din down so that they don't have injuries with people who have not skied much powder before. I ski at 7. As a snowboarder I recommend you be very careful before you go fiddling with a skiers din.

    FT - the map is a joke in that every single solitary tree has had a pixel of pink put on it.
     
    #43 damian, Jun 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  44. damian

    damian A Local

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    Quoted for posterity. This is almost too transparent.
     
    #44 damian, Jun 30, 2010
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  45. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    loving this thread...
    thumbs up.
     
  46. TJ

    TJ One of Us

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    Don't need a thread for that Damian.
    I can honestly say I have never fiddled with anyone's din.
     
  47. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    this is like watching "you beaut" travel agent spar with OH & S.
     
  48. BigWaveDave

    BigWaveDave Hard Yards

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    so we've all heard all about the legendary off piste tree skiing in Japan, and are aware that 'most Japanese locals don't ski off piste'. I'd assumed that was becuase Japanese skiers weren't powder mad like Aussies are - but I'm starting to think that it's simply because they don't want to be booked/banned

    Does this mean that all/most off piste areas within the ski area' are forbidden or is it just specific areas within the resorts?. I'm aware that skiing outside the boundary ropes is a different issue (this is an issue everywhere in the world), but surely if skiing trees/off piste within the resort boundary they can't pull your passes?

    IS this isolated to a few resorts in Japan or does it apply across the board?
     
  49. TJ

    TJ One of Us

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    Sorry meen. We do not offer guided tours. I will head onto the hill with my guests and do some runs with them. Show them some good stuff and let them get acquainted with the resort. I will always be available for first lifts on powder days. Thats why I live here.
    The guided tours are there if you want to hike out into the real backcountry. The slack country is there for free + lift pass
     
    #49 TJ, Jun 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013
  50. Donza

    Donza Pool Room

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    Its all a myth Dave. Seriously.
    Japanese love to ski off piste.
     
    #50 Donza, Jun 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2013