resort write ups

Resort Write-Up: Kiroro

Do you like skiing?

Do you like going fast?

Do you like having fun?

If you answered “not really” to all of these questions, then you’re going to love Kiroro.

The skiing

Kiroro is something of a mystery in the world of skiing. It gets a lot of snow. Really a lot. It’s one of the first ski resorts the northwesterly storms hit as they come over the Sea of Japan, and those storms bring pow in large quantities.

But it’s also very flat. It has the flattest chairlift I’ve ever seen (and I grew up skiing in Australia). If you turn on bottom third of the main groomer under the gondola, you probably won’t make it back to the base station. At other skis fields, I sometimes worry that I’m going to crash into something or fall off something and hurt myself. At Kiroro, I couldn’t shake the fear that I’d get stuck in a flat spot and have to walk out.

Resort Write-Up: Kurodake

Normally in these resort write-ups there’s an attempt to keep a bit of professional distance. We try to be a bit objective and give you an honest assessment of a ski area’s strengths and weaknesses. Is it good in a storm? Do the lifts spin if it’s windy? Should you stay there or commute from somewhere else?

I’m not going to do that with Kurodake. I'll give you the facts as best I can, but since any chance of objectivity is hopelessly compromised by my experiences here, I'm also going to tell what I think about Kurodake and what it means to me as a skier.

The skiing:

Let’s start with the facts: Kurodake is a mountain in the Daisetsuzan Range near the onsen resort town of Sounkyo Gorge. The mountain is a rocky peak with steep skiable slopes on one side and huge bristling cliffs on the other.

Resort Write Up: Asahidake

Resort Write Up: Asahidake

Asahidake ropeway is only an hour or so from Hokkaido’s second biggest city, but it feels a very long way from anywhere. As you drive up, the mountains fold in around you and the ever-rising snowbanks on the roadside make it clear that this place gets serious snow. The ski area is sheltered and calm, collecting deep, dry powder while up above the big winter storms buffet the peak of Mt Asahidake, the tallest mountain in Hokkaido.

Asahidake has one cable car, and like Kurodake, this was set up for hikers and tourists visiting the hot springs in summer. But over a long winter, Asahidake gets hammered by metres of the driest snow in Hokkaido. This area is for those who love riding through trees and enjoy a little exploring in search of the perfect run. Around the base of the gondola are a handful of hotels and ryokans that mostly cater to summer tourists. In winter they’re quiet, welcoming the few guests they receive with warm hospitality, amazing traditional Japanese meals and outdoor hot springs on the edge of the forest.