Trip Report: Niseko – The Arrival

Fact: If you love to ski—I mean, really love to ski—you absolutely have to make it to Niseko.

Do not regard this as a suggestion; consider this a mandate, and fulfill it by any means necessary. Start saving for a trip to Hokkaido a couple seasons from now. Sell off as much old gear as you can. Become a regular donor at the blood bank if you have to. But this place goes on your bucket list, and if you’d been with us the last two days, you would be nodding along vigorously in agreement.

Niseko is going off. It has hardly stopped snowing since we’ve arrived.

Our reviewer Julia Van Raalte keeps insisting that she is moving here.

Our Alaskan reviewer, Andrew Gregovich, who grew up skiing around AK, declared today, I must be dreaming.

Reviewer Jason Hutchins was the one I was most worried about. He loves the techy steeps of Taos Ski Valley more than just about anyone I know, and he now calls Alta home. He’s used to top-shelf mountains. I thought Niseko might not present the sort of challenges that he is always looking for. Two days down, and my worries have already proven to be completely unfounded. The pillows, trees, and natural features created by the ridiculous amounts of snow make Niseko a massive playground.

As I mentioned in our trip announcement, Niseko’s snow runs deep and light, and it is the opposite of crowded here.

Beginner and intermediate skiers who come here—if they bring a proper pair of skis—can have the time of their lives. Advanced and expert skiers who come here will have the time of their lives.

Think I’m exaggerating?

Well, we’ve been hanging out at Black Diamond Lodge with crews from Matchstick Production and Warren Miller. When you’re skiing at a place where you keep bumping into Sean Pettit and Richard Permin in the lift line, then you sit around at the lodge at night and everybody just sort of shakes their head at the day you’ve just had, you know you might be in the right place.

Soon, we will post an article that will streamline the process of getting to Niseko. It’s not a difficult trip if you know what you’re doing, and seriously: go back and read my first sentence.

We are two days in, fifteen days to go. Tomorrow, we’ll start posting initial impressions on some of the skis we’ve been riding.

For now, here are a few photos. The first shots on snow in this gallery were literally taken on our first run at this place. There’s really nothing more to say, except that, we really might be dreaming.

NEXT: The Gallery 

3 comments on “Trip Report: Niseko – The Arrival”

  1. Insane! Can’t wait to see the full trip report and process to get there cause Japan is where I’ll go next year but the logistics of getting and riding there seem to be quite hard especially because Niseko is like 18h from Hokkaido and there isn’t that much info available on the internet on the riding spots. I heard that most of the cool stuff can be hit by access through chairlifts or you have to hike a lot but I can’t have a true reliable source of info on that.

    • Yeah, PE. We promise to streamline the process and make it all much clearer. The reality is, it’s not difficult to get here (oh, and Niseko is only a 2-3 hour car or bus ride from Sapporo airport), and we will make it as simple as we can. And while there are lots of great sidecountry and backcountry options in Hokkaido, we have been skiing pretty exclusively in lift accessed areas of Niseko. All of our photographs in this album show stuff that we got to from the lifts, no hiking or touring. It’s right here.

  2. “we will post an article that will streamline the process of getting to Niseko.”
    — Did this ever get written?

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