Although we already had high expectations for this trip, it exceeded them with flying colors. We were lucky with the weather, and everything went very smoothly, very easy, very practical.

After 23 hours of travel, passing through Tokyo, we arrived at Chitose Airport on the island of Hokkaido. Before landing, we could already see all the terraces and roofs of the buildings covered in snow. We started driving towards Niseko, a 2-hour journey in which, with every kilometer we covered, we saw more snow. It started snowing heavily about 35 km before reaching our destination and it didn’t stop until the next day. We stayed in a small hotel, next to the road, between the town of Niseko and the city of Kutchan. Just driving on roads where the asphalt was not visible was an adventure in itself.

During the 12 days we were there, we could say we developed a routine. Every evening during dinner, we looked at the weather forecast for the next day to decide the plan. The decision was very easy: if it snowed a lot during the night, the next day we would hit the resort. If, on the contrary, it didn’t snow again, the plan was to do some backcountry routes. And so, every day. We woke up early; some days, we bought breakfast the day before, made a stop at a convenience store (like Lawson or 7Eleven) to buy coffee, and started the day. Whether we did resort or backcountry, usually between 2 and 4 pm, we were back in the car looking for a place to eat. We got home, showered (although some days we went to the “onsen,” the traditional Japanese hot springs), rested, and went to dinner between 6 and 7 pm, local time. We returned to the hotel, discussed the plan for the next day a bit, and went to sleep.

Just 20 minutes away, we had Niseko United, which includes 4 resorts (Niseko Annupuri, Niseko Village Resort, Niseko Tokyu Grand Hirafu, and Niseko Hanazono Resort); although we also went to Rusutsu one day, the largest resort in all of Hokkaido. Unlike what we are used to in Europe, the resorts in Hokkaido are small, with the highest points not reaching 1,100 m, and they don’t have much slope. Still, with the quantity and quality of the snow, it’s the perfect playground for a ski vacation.

In the end, we did half resort, half backcountry. And to our surprise, we discovered a type of backcountry that we don’t have in the Pyrenees. Normally, from the car to the highest point of the day, it took us an hour or an hour and a half of climbing; then, we would make the first descent there and could make a couple or three more descents, going back up to the highest point in about 15-25 minutes. And every descent with untouched snow, at least up to the waist. We explored different areas doing backcountry, from a coastal route where we could see the sea throughout the second half of the route, to climbing the highest volcano in the area, Mount Yotei (1,898 m).

Due to the general lack of steepness, all the areas were quite safe, giving us a lot of freedom to move around, find untouched areas, and enjoy the best snow we had ever skied on. Also, the climbs weren’t technically challenging; with so much snow, you just had to find the best path to overcome the elevation gain, although the person breaking the trail got three times as tired.

We are sure that next year we will ski again in Japanese lands. Not only did we ski with the best snow of our lives, but there was also so much snow that we never skied with snow below the knee. And this, combined with the culinary experience with ramen, sushi, tonkatsu, the cultural shock, the whitest landscapes we had ever seen, and a team of 4 friends, made this trip an unforgettable experience.







Pol Tarrés




Eloi Paré

Alex von Arend

Albert Joaniquet