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Hakuba Japan DIY advice?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Although there're a lot of hits when I search "Hakuba", they're scattered in thread about skiing in Japan in general. I ended up reading through a lot of information on skiing in Hokkaido, ski touring, skiing safari, and the best tour op for all-inclusive packages to Japan...

I did find bits and pieces of Hakuba specific information here and there. But still missing the "big picture":

which of the many mountains I should be looking to ski, and where would be a good central base to spend the nights.

1) Which mountain(s)?

My understanding, Hakuba is a collection of unlinked mountains. It's a bit bewildering to try to sort through how big or small each mountain is and what sort of terrain each has.

Like everyone going to Japan, one goes there for the powder, of course!

I don't know how the Japanese mountains do when new snow falls. Do they immediately bash it flat overnight like in Europe? Sad Or do they leave it alone for days? So if one mountain is less ambitious in bashing than the next, I'd prefer the ones most "lazy" in bashing! Laughing

I will be alone. So I will not be going down some unknown lines without knowing where it ends up. So apart from unbashed pistes, I would think wide open faces I can see and tree stands between pistes would be my best bet? Any recommendation of mountains that have those kind of terrain would put it on the top of my list. Laughing

(On the opposite end of the spectrum, mountain(s) that has a strict "no off-piste" policy, where they will pull your pass away, would be a mountain I prefer to skip. )

I know in Hokkaido, the powder are typically light and fluffy. How about in Honshu? Because if the powder is light, it's less critical to have steep slope. In fact, I'd be perfectly content to cruise at "sleeper" mountain where the powder craziers overlooked due to "lack of gnar". Toofy Grin

But real life is such, it may not snow for a couple weeks before I got there. So short of daily fresh powder, mountains having a good variety of terrain would be nice when there's no powder.

Having laid out my preference, what are the mountain(s) I should be looking at first? Embarassed


2) A central base?

Once the question of which mountain(s) to ski gets settled, I would like recommendation of a central base that has decent access to multiple mountains. Does such a central "bed base" exist? I don't mind a bit of a bus ride to get to different mountains, as long as there're good schedule and not too convoluted/involving multiple transfers.

I will be there for about a week, probably skiing 5-6 days. I don't have to "hit" every mountain. I actually prefer to get to know a couple mountains better, rather than to do a different mountain each day.


Last edited by Poster: A snowHead on Tue 5-11-19 17:56; edited 1 time in total
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Last year we stayed in Happo One so I will try and answer your questions.

Happo One itself proved the largest and most varied skiing. I would put it top of the list. I liked Hakuba 47 and Goryu, which had gentler skiing and put them second. The one day we went to Iwatake the weather was poor (fog and drizzle) the snow was also very heavy.I didn't like it. We went to Tsugaike a couple days for back country skiing. The Blue and red pistes were bashed nightly (or so it seamed), the blacks were left to develop some moguls. There are specifically designated zones where you enter through a gate and ski through trees at Happo One. These are never bashed since the machines cannot get through the trees.

When we were there there was no powder. The offpiste was very heavy with a slight breaking crust. It was difficult to ski.

Happo One proved a good base; the home mountain was the the best of those we visited and it was easy to get the morning bus to another if you wanted. It was a short walk to Echoland where the best restaurants are.

We used Evergreen for backcountry guiding. They were excellent. The offpiste is regulated so a guide or significant local knowledge and map reading skills (in Japanease) is almost essential.

Skisafari handled all our bookings including those with Evergreen. We found they also gave lots of good advice.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@johnE, brilliant!

That should get me starting in a good direction. Will look into it a bit more.

Thanks Toofy Grin
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
Some good info on the snowjapan website
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
nickH wrote:
Some good info on the snowjapan website

Once I know WHAT to look for, that is.
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You'll need to Register first of course.
Tony Anderson is the go to guy in Hakuba, and they drive you to and from the best hills based on daily conditions and least crowded and often staff ski / board with guests, arrive solo and leave with life long new friends, mention Gail & Des as we cant wait to get back one day. have a look at https://www.whitehorse-hakuba.com/about-us
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
https://www.ski.com.au/xf/forums/japan.51/
Aussie ski forum. Lots and lots of great info.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Des wrote:
Tony Anderson is the go to guy in Hakuba, and they drive you to and from the best hills based on daily conditions and least crowded and often staff ski / board with guests, arrive solo and leave with life long new friends, mention Gail & Des as we cant wait to get back one day. have a look at https://www.whitehorse-hakuba.com/about-us


+1

Stayed with Tony for 3 nights. Fantastic. Food is great and chats over beer top notch.

Walking distance to shops and restaurants.

He showed us around Happo-One. Excellent.

Skied Tsugaike and Iwatake.

Recommend all three.

Snow was heavier and wetter than Hokkaido when we were there but still a piece of wee wee to ski and very, very enjoyable. Kit was wetted out at day's end, but had that plenty in N America on powder days.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Another vote for staying in Happo One. We’ve been twice (visiting ski instructor offspring working for Evergreen). Goryu and 47 are a short bus ride away, and we also liked Iwatake. The on piste skiing there is superb. However, off piste is expressly forbidden in those resorts, apart from some dedicated free ride zones (or at least, they were in 2014 and 2016).

An absolute must do, if it snows, is a trip to Cortina. Get a combined ticket for Norikura over the ridge. The whole area, including the trees, are open to ski on and off piste. It’s 30-40 mins on the bus from the central station, or about 20 by taxi. Get there early. Last time we were there the first bus was at 7.30am. Arrive, park your skis in the orderly queue at the bottom of the main chair, and while you wait for the lifts to open, go and get a hot drink from the vending machines in the bonkers and vast tudorbethan monstrosity Hotel Green Plaza.
Very Happy
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Perty wrote:
Another vote for staying in Happo One. We’ve been twice (visiting ski instructor offspring working for Evergreen). Goryu and 47 are a short bus ride away, and we also liked Iwatake. The on piste skiing there is superb. However, off piste is expressly forbidden in those resorts, apart from some dedicated free ride zones (or at least, they were in 2014 and 2016).

An absolute must do, if it snows, is a trip to Cortina. Get a combined ticket for Norikura over the ridge. The whole area, including the trees, are open to ski on and off piste. It’s 30-40 mins on the bus from the central station, or about 20 by taxi. Get there early. Last time we were there the first bus was at 7.30am. Arrive, park your skis in the orderly queue at the bottom of the main chair, and while you wait for the lifts to open, go and get a hot drink from the vending machines in the bonkers and vast tudorbethan monstrosity Hotel Green Plaza.
Very Happy


This IMHO is the worst thing about skiing at Cortina and Hakuba.

Queue or get to the back.
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Thanks all. Will look into staying at Happo One then.

Recommendation of hire shop(s)?

(I struggle between bringing my own skis vs hire. Because I MAY be travelling to other part of Asia, I'd prefer not be burdened with skis. But there's always the risk of not finding good selection of skis)
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 And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I can’t say that queuing was a feature, other than the first lift queue in Cortina on a snowy morning. We went just after the end of the Aussie Christmas/summer school hols the first time and at the end of Feb, I think, for the second trip. Met a kiwi in Cortina/Norikura who said he preferred it to the popular Hokkaido resorts because you could get away from the hoards.
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