Backcountry Powder Touring
The mystical deep.
If you've heard about Japan's legendary powder skiing, Hokkaido is the place. This northern island receives a steady flow of Siberian storms, bringing a combination of heavy moisture and very cold temperatures. The result is a snow climate described as "arctic maritime", and some of the deepest snow on the planet.
The terrain and landscape of Hokkaido is unlike anywhere you've skied. Rimed white birch forests on the lower flanks of storm-obscured volcanoes provide wind protection for skiers, and preserved powder snow. Skin tracks start to disappear as quickly as we break trail; as do ski tracks. Cold days of powder skiing are warmed with onsen (hotsprings) and Japanese hospitality.
Our Pacific Alpine Guides program is ski touring focused. We spend the majority of our time in the backcountry, allowing us to truly maximize the untracked experience.
Hokkaido has become increasingly popular over the years, with massive development in the resort areas around Niseko. We prefer to avoid the crowded, touristy scene. In our opinion, Central Hokkaido is the place to be: fewer people, authentic Japanese culture, beautiful mountains, and super deep snow.
Over the years, guides Tyler Reid and Jake Beren have crafted and refined an itinerary that maximizes skiing and minimizes driving. Most accommodations are ski in/ski out, including incredible meals and beautiful onsen (hotsprings) all in the same facility.
Day 1 — ARRIVE in FURANO
Furano is easily accessed from Hokkaido's main airports, Sapporo New Chitose (CTS) and Asahikawa (AKJ) by bus, train, or private transfer. See below for more info. Evening meeting / optional dinner in Furano.
Day 2 — SKI FURANO
Furano is a perfect place to begin the adventure, with a great ski area and excellent backcountry options. B
Day 3 — CENTRAL HOKKAIDO BACKCOUNTRY
Options include skiing at Sahoro, Tomamu, Kamui and in the Furano backcountry depending where the snow is best. Stay in Furano. B
Day 4 — CENTRAL HOKKAIDO BACKCOUNTRY
Ski Tokashidake, a land of excellent tree skiing and deep, deep snow. Here we stay in the mountains at a beautiful
lodge and onsen, enjoying traditional Japanese hospitality. B, D
Day 5 — TOKASHIDAKE or ASAHIDAKE
More deep powder touring. Stay in Tokashidake or Asahidake. B, D
Day 6 — DAISETSUZAN NATIONAL PARK
We stay at a hotel and onsen at the base of a tramway, on the lower flanks of the volcano Asahi, the highest mountain on the island of Hokkaido. A tramway offers quick access to excellent storm touring below the treeline. Stay in Asahidake. B, D
Day 7 — ASAHIDAKE ROPEWAY
Powder skiing. Stay in Asahidake. B, D
Day 8 — KAMUI or FURANO, return to FURANO
We ski a shorter day at Kamui or Furano, returning to Furano in the late afternoon for outbound transfers. We recommend staying in Furano or near the airport on this night. If you plan to fly home this evening, we advise booking your outbound departure from Sapporo New Chitose (CTS) for no earlier than 8pm.
January, often referred to as "Japanuary" is the best time to go. Storms are most consistent during this time and ski areas are less crowded.
Previous ski touring experience, advanced downhill skiing ability, and excellent physical fitness is required for this program. It is particularly important that you are comfortable skiing in [deep] powder snow.
7 days of guided powder skiing
7 nights lodging in Hokkaido (double occupancy)*
Breakfasts and dinners, as stated in the itinerary
Van transfers starting from our Furano hotel
Lift passes for ski area accessed backcountry days
Flights to/from Japan, transfer to/from Furano
Lunch food, dinners in Furano, and Sake (alcohol)
Additional lift passes or activities outside of the itinerary
ARRIVAL + DEPARTURE
Fly into Sapporo New Chitose Airport (CTS) or Asahikawa (AKJ). New Chitose has more flight options from the US, but Asahikawa is closer to Furano. Either work well, however we recommend avoiding itineraries that require transferring airports in Tokyo (Narita to/from Haneda).
Most departures from the US require leaving a day early. Travel times from the US average from 14-24 hours depending on connections.
From New Chitose Airport, you can get to Furano by bus, train, or private transfer. Direct bus service service is offered by Hokkaido Resort Liner and is the most popular option. There are multiple buses each day, however seats must be reserved at least 7 days in advance.
From Asahikawa Airport, Furano Bus offers service every 4 hours.
Outbound flights from Hokkaido often arrive in the US on the same day as a result of crossing the international dateline.