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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-24-2013, 12:37 AM Thread Starter
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10 day snowboarding trip for intermediate/advanced snowboarder - Whistler or Niesko?

Hi all,

I have been lurking around this forum for a while, but this is my first post.

I am an intermediate/advanced boarder from Australia. Been boarding for about 15-20 years (I am now 30), but maybe only one week per year average. I am confident on the slopes, haven't found any terrain in Aus that really intimidates me. That being said, I have never really boarded outside of Aus except a few days in France and Chile.

Anyway, I am looking at taking a trip in Jan-Feb for around 10 days and am trying to decide where to go. I think I have narrowed it down to either Whistler or Niesko but am open to other options.

My priority is untracked powder runs. I am happy to sacrifice almost anything in the trip for high chance of good powder days, with runs that I can make fresh tracks. I don't need (or want) the runs to be completely deserted, but here in Aus on a sunny powder day, the runs are all tracked out within a couple of hours of the lifts opening. I would like a place that I can find untracked runs on powder days :-)

A bonus would be a wide variety of off piste tree runs. Nothing super extreme, I don't want a high possibility of getting myself into too much trouble, but in bound runs that are rarely ridden would be awesome. But again, this is definitely second to powder powder and more powder.

I know that Whistler terrain would be superior in variety to Niesko, but in 10 days would I likely ride everything in Niesko and bore myself out? I know there are dozens of resorts nearby so I suppose I don't have to just stick to Niesko.

As you can see I am leaning towards Japan as I know the probability of Powder is second to none. My only concern is that, on those powder days it will likely get tracked out. Is this the case or is it quite easy to find runs where you can make your own tracks?

I am open to other suggestions if people want to recommend another place to go.

Cheers all,
Tom
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-24-2013, 01:32 AM
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Originally Posted by tmiddled View Post
As you can see I am leaning towards Japan as I know the probability of Powder is second to none.
You have answered your own question there - for reliable powder (and lots of tree runs!) Hokkaido is tough to beat.
And if you are prepared to go outside the main runs (and maybe even to other resorts than Niseko), there should be little risk of it getting tracked out. In fact, in Hokkaido it often just keeps dumping during the day so you will have fresh all-day long.
Finally, no way you that you will even cover all of the 4 Niseko core resorts (Hirafu, Niseko Village, Annupuri, and Hanazono) in 10 days the first time around.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-24-2013, 05:02 AM
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I really enjoy whistler but for powder it's hit and miss, and the snow is not typically light and fluffy.

I would suggest that a better choice than whistler would be bc interior, ideally a cat or Heli camp, but at least the string of resorts labeled the powder highway.

Niseko might still be the better choice but much as I really like whistler, if powde is your #1 priority then in bc there are better options. I leave it to those who've done both to comment.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-24-2013, 06:25 PM Thread Starter
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Hi thanks guys,

I think Japan it is. With the added convenience of being easy to get to from Australia for a short trip of two weeks, I don't think I can go wrong.

So hktrdr (and others) is it usually only the groomed runs that get tracked out? I love tree runs, on a typical day in January/Feb, am I likely able to find untracked runs throughout most of the day in Niesko?

Maybe this is for another thread after I have done a bit more research, but I'm thinking of doing maybe 6 days in Niesko, and then the other 4 days base myself in a town that has relatively easy access to little ridden resorts. Even if they only have one lift or something, I like the sound of visiting smaller, less- ridden resorts where I might be the only foreigner :-) Can anyone recommend a small town like this?

I don't speak any Japanese but have traveled to around 50 countries before, so am pretty apt at getting myself around without verbal communication :-)

Last edited by tmiddled; 07-24-2013 at 06:31 PM.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-29-2013, 12:55 AM
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From my distant recollection there was very little inbounds tree skiing at Blackcomb. The pine trees aren't deciduous like the Japanese white birch trees and have heavy foliage and are spaced too close. To go over the edge of the piste or trail, it was often very steep & thickly treed.

Niseko Hirafu & Hanazono have inbounds tree runs & will be tracked out from as early as 10:00am if not snowing, in January. Head to Annupuri or Moiwa to escape the crowd.
Also daytrip to Rusutsu (Mt Isola) or Kiroro by bus (but better to hire a car for convenience for several people). Be aware of the Niseko Rules, & avalanche & glide crack risks if using the Out of Bounds gates.
If you want to avoid aussies, singaporeans and hong kong chinese, head to Kiroro, Kamui or Tomamu or maybe Tiene or Mt Racey (these being the most predominate foreign skier groups). Maybe a guided backcountry day tour in the Central Mountains/Tokachidake. Asahikawa city has an airport and is worth a few days stay for Kamui.

See also:

Skiing Niseko Japan | Snowboard Niseko | Niseko Ski Area

Japan - Ski Forum

Last edited by blutek; 07-30-2013 at 12:44 AM.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-27-2013, 11:08 PM
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Niseko Powder

I am heading up to Niseko this winter too. I was worried about the runs getting tracked out but the guys in the place the lodge I am staying in, aceniseko.com, told me that they can show me some good places to board on the mountain and that they do day trips to the nearby resorts of Rusutsu and Kiroro.

Anyone know of any other good resorts in the area?
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-29-2013, 12:49 AM
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Niseko after Chinese New Year gets less crowded. It's a great base, just be prepared to travel if you have the time. The Donan bus, stoppping at Rusutsu, only costs about Y1,000 each way. Hokkaido Resort Liner should have a bus going from Hirafu to Kiroro.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-29-2013, 12:51 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Blutek that is good news. I am pretty flexible, so I will aim for early February if that is going to be less busy. Any other specific dates to avoid to try and get less crowds?
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-29-2013, 12:55 AM
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Originally Posted by blutek View Post
If you want to avoid aussies, singaporeans and hong kong chinese, head to Kiroro, Kamui or Tomamu or maybe Tiene or Mt Racey (these being the most predominate foreign skier groups). Maybe a guided backcountry day tour in the Central Mountains/Tokachidake. Asahikawa city has an airport and is worth a few days stay for Kamui.

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Dont bother with interior hokkaido on a 10 day trip, and mt racey lol dont bother with it full stop unless you have a free pass and a few hours to kill on the way to tomamu
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-29-2013, 12:58 AM
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Early to mid February will still be busy, but a good time to visit.
Weather can be still extreme - windy & snowy, the odd day with some lifts not operating. Ski buses can get crowded, but lift lines won't be a problem.
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