In this blog series we will look at different resorts across Hokkaido. Different skiers and riders seek out different terrain and experiences. Which resort suits your needs!?
In the upcoming weeks we will discuss Niseko United. A mountain divided in 4 areas, Annupuri, Niseko Village, Grand Hirafu and Hanazono.
Niseko Grand Hirafu
Niseko Grand Hirafu consists of 12 lifts that range from green (easiest) to black (most difficult). Let us start at the top and work our way down the mountain with some recommended rest stops along the way.
King Lift #4 & Ace Pair Lift #4 – Experts only
These lifts are all running above tree-line. All the runs that can be accessed from these lifts are black (most difficult). This indicates that the lifts should only be accessed by expert skiers and snowboarders. These lifts are also a handy tool if you want to hike to the peak of Mt. Annupuri. Only hike out of the gates if you have sufficient knowledge and the appropriate equipment. Make sure to never access the backcountry alone. Bring some friends and preferably a guide!
Recommended Break Spot: 1000m hut near the bottom of the Ace Pair Lift. Grab a cup of delicious hot chocolate and some red bean buns to get your energy back before going out again.
King Hooded Quad # 3, Ace Pair Lift #3 & Swinging Monkey
This area is interesting for intermediate/advanced levels. The king hooded quad #3 is a new lift that was put in during the summer of 2016. It is a fast lift that allows you to make quick laps. This lift and its surrounding slopes are great when you want to really challenge yourself. These slopes are not easy, so make sure that you feel confident before you head up. These slopes are also great when there is powder on the slopes. Go here if you want to get a few easy powder laps in.
Recommended Break Spot: King Bell Hut (at the bottom of King Hooded Quad #3 and Swinging Monkey). Try a hearty bowl of ramen or grab some hot snacks.
Hirafu Gondola, King Quad #2, Ace Quad Lift #2
This section of lifts offers the widest variety of slope difficulty. You can take it easy and take Green all the way down, or you can challenge yourself on some of the steepest slopes in the region. The Hirafu Gondola is the fastest lift in the resort, and it also allows you to stay nice and warm. These lifts are also open for night riding, so make sure to give them a try during the night and daytime!
Recommended Break Spot: Ace Hill at the top of the Ace Quad Lift 2. Enjoy a great view of Yotei while enjoying a bowl of soup or another tasty ramen.
Holiday Pair #1, King Pair #1, Ace Pair #1, Ace Family Quad #1
These are the lower lifts in the resort and are perfect for first-timers, beginners and novices. There is so much you can learn on the slopes surrounding these lifts, so make sure to spend a lot of time here if you are not entirely comfortable on your skis or board just yet. The terrain allows you to progress in a safe manner. Furthermore, the new Ace family quad lift will allow visitors to get many laps in per day.
Recommended Break Spot: Boyoso (at the top of Holiday Pair #1). This restaurant is a traditional Japanese mountain hut restaurant serving generously portioned dishes like rice topped with crab and pork katsu curry.