After a very deep and good start of the new year in Japan, my skibuddy Caroline and I have been skiing in Hakuba, where many of the ski events of the '98 Olympics were held.
Did I mention it was very deep?
Photografy: Caroline van 't Hoff
Of course Hakuba has a lot more to offer than just great piste skiing. After the starter of last time the main course is being served right now! Hakuba is made up of nine different ski resorts and we discover most of them with the guides from Evergreen Outdoor Center. Dave, the owner and SKI.E.O. of Evergreen is our very experienced guide. Orginally he is from Canada and has been living over 20 years in Japan.
Hanging out with Dave
He used to work as ski patrol at Hakuba Cortina (best tree skiing in Hakuba!), gives AST courses and advices Japanese ski resorts how to deal with the growing numbers of backcountry skiers. He is currently working on a very cool new project: opening a new controlled backcountry area in Tsugaike (another resort in Hakuba). For now it is still illegal to ski off piste at Tsugaike and your pass will be pulled by patrol, but Dave hopes to open the area later this season.
Dave was so kind to gives us a sneak preview and for two days and we skied the untouched powder in this beech and birch forest, filled with pillows, drops and rollers.
If you are under the impression that you can only ski mellow lines in Japan, you are wrong! Around Hakuba you can find steep spine lines, just like in Alaska. Therefor we were not surprised when we ran into Travis Rice in the backcountry of Tsugaike. This is his second year in Hakuba, filming for his new movie which will air later this fall.
Find more information on skiing in Japan on our Facebook page.
Evergreen Outdoor Tours: Ski with a guide in a group of 2-6 people. Everyday Evergreen decides where to ski, depending on the snow conditions. Lunch and lift passes are not included in the price. You can choose between a:
-Backcountry tour (ski touring/ splitboarding): 75 euro pp (includes a guide and transportation)
-Off Piste tour (lift accessed powder): 80 euro or 105 euro if you have to rent safety gear (includes a guide and transportation)
Tsugaike day pass: 23 euro / season pass: 390 euro
Cortina day pass: 26 euro / season pass: 285 euro
The options where to stay in Hakuba are endless, no matter what your budget is. Our recommendations are:
Aria Hotel a simple but comfortable hotel right around the corner from the Evergreen office: 50 euro for a twin room including breakfast. Hotel Mominoki is a luxurious hotel, with one of the best onsens in town. (good thing is, you don't have to be a hotel guest to visit the onsen!) Located across from the Evergreen office. 90 euro for a double room, including breakfast. Find more accommodation around Hakuba via Ski Japan Holidays.