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Ski Touring in Hokkaido, Japan

Location Japan

Season Winter January 19-26, 2020

Difficulty Advanced

Duration 7 Days


As backcountry skiers, you have no doubt heard rumors regarding the amazing skiing on the North Island Hokkaido of Japan. Lets be clear, the rumors are true! With cold fronts continuously moving east out of Siberia and colliding with moisture-laden air over the Sea of Japan, this equates to copious quantities of deep,
cold, dry snow for us to ski!

We at The Mountain Guides would like to invite you to join us for an incredible experience that will immerse you into the amazing skiing, vast beauty, cultural and culinary aspects that a trip to Hokkaido, Japan has to offer. Veteran guides and skiers Rob Hess and Jeff Wood will lead this trip. Rob as the lead guide is owner and chief guide at The Mountain Guides, Rob is a highly skilled skier in the front and backcountry, a licensed and fully certified IFMGA/AMGA guide, instructor and examiner for the AMGA and a veteran of many ski and climbing trips world wide. Jeff as the assistant guide is also highly experienced backcountry and front country skier with a vast amount of experience as a skier and climber. Jeff has logged tons of days in his home range The Wasatch and has logged many days over three years in the ski zones in Japan that we are scheduled to tour on this trip. Rob and Jeff both know how to have great time on such a ski trip while managing the risks that a trip of this nature may present.

Though this trip is designed for the advanced skier with some touring experience, it is also meant to be an educational experience. Skiers will be coached and instructed on the finer points of ski touring with the goal of improving their ski touring capability and judgment skills.

Get Psyched for Japow!!!


Season Winter January 19-26, 2020

Minimum Age 18

Trip Planner


Day 0: arrive and settle in to accommodations at the Dormy Inn Premium Otaru. Meet and greet, gear check and trip orientation.

Day 1: We will travel to Kokusai ski resort utilizing facilities for one lift and then tour from there. This day will focus on tree skiing with instruction and coaching on core ski touring skills and some companion rescue skills for a great day of skiing. Onsen and après meeting/debrief followed by a group dinner as included in the trip.

Day 2: We will travel to a different but nearby ski area zone Kiroro and ski tour from there. No lifts. Onsen and après meeting/debrief as per usual. Dinner on own but group dinner encouraged.

Day 3: We will again travel to Kiroro. No lifts. Onsen and après meeting/debrief as per usual. Dinner on own but group dinner encouraged.

Day 4: Weather permitting we will ski tour up the volcano Mount Yōtei with the option of a descent into the crater. It may be necessary to schedule this on a different day due to weather. No lifts. Onsen and après meeting/debrief as per usual. Dinner on own but group dinner encouraged.

Day 5: Ski tour up Shiribetsu-dake, a smaller volcano south and east of Yōtei. No lifts. Onsen and après meeting/debrief as per usual. Dinner on own but group dinner encouraged.

Day 6: Once again, weather permitting we would like to have one lift at Kiroro ski resort and then ski tour up Yoichi-dake. If it is not possible to get to the top then we will ski the terrain that is possible. One ski lift day. Onsen and après meeting/debrief followed by a group dinner as included in the trip.

Day 7: The final day will be ski touring around Kokusai. One ski lift day. Drive to Sapporo and drop everyone at his or her hotels. Accommodations are not included on this day nor are dinner but if all would like to have dinner together in Sapporo, this is encouraged. On to the next big adventure!

Price: $3400 Per Person

What is included in the price?
– All guide fees and expenses
– 7 nights lodging double occupancy
– All breakfasts
– 2 Group dinners
– All transportation during the 7-day trip
– One lift ski pass on two different touring days at Kokusai
– Training and preparation advice before the trip
– Gear selection and advice before the trip
One free ski touring training and education day in the Wasatch with Rob on a prescheduled date if signed up before September 31st, 2019.

What is not included in the price?
– Round trip flight from the states to Japan and return
– Lodging outside the 7 days on the trip
– Dinners on 5 of the 7 nights during the trip
– Alcoholic drinks on the nights dinner is provided
– Gratuities for the guides
– Transportation from Chitose Airport to the Dormy Inn Premium Otaru at the beginning of the trip
– Trip insurance
– Ski lift pass at Kiroro
– Equipment rentals


Shop for this stuff 






  • Boots: Alpine Touring, Telemark, or Snowboarding Boots
  • Skis or Splitboard with compatible binding for boots
  • Climbing Skins (fit to skis)
  • Ski Poles
  • Helmet (optional)

SNOW SAFETY EQUIPMENT (REQUIRED and available for rent at JHMG)



This trip begins with your flight into Sapporo, Japan via the Chitose (CTS) airport. From the airport a train ride brings you into the center of Otaru where you will walk across the street from the train station to our Hotel the Dormy Inn Premium Otaru. We are centrally located so we have great access to Otaru and the after hour offerings this small city has. We use Otaru for our base of operations and lodging since this is a relatively short drive to most of the areas we intend to ski. We have the transportation covered during the ski week and have rented two vans for our use. We are seeking the less traveled areas and are avoiding the large, busy zones such as Niseko so as to better offer a quieter and more intimate ski experience. This trip is predominately a ski touring based trip though we may on a few days use lifts to start our tours. We have an itinerary set up to maximize good skiing but remain flexible based on weather and conditions. On stormy days we will focus our activity on skiing the trees (birch) and glades near the ski resorts of Kokusai and Kiroro. When the sun comes out we hope to venture up high onto the volcanos such as Mount Yōtei and or Shiribetsu-dake and peaks Yoichi-dake. The final portion of each day includes visits to the onsens (hot baths) whether on our way home or at the hotel. Once done with the daily activities described, we like to be sure to meet as a group to discuss the day with a cocktail or favorite beverage in hand. The plan for the following day, debrief and highlights of the day, weather and or just plain getting to know each other better is the agenda here. We encourage group dinners and on two evenings we will arrange and cover the costs of such dinners.

How good a skier do I need to be?

You should come to this ski trip as an advanced skier. Ideally you will feel equally at home at the ski area and in the backcountry. You should be able to handle black diamond runs in both powder and or in firm conditions. Generally speaking we will be skiing moderate angle ski runs but you should be sure to be able to handle your self in varied conditions.

How fit do I need to be?

You should be in as good aerobic condition as possible before coming. This means that you should start preparing 1-2 months at minimum before this trip. This being said you wont likely have to break trail and the guides will prepare a track that is at an angle that allows you to stay in a good rhythm when ascending. You can expect at minimum 3-4000’ days with the possibility of a few days closer to 5-6000’, but this will largely depend on the overall group skill and strength.

How safe is this trip? Are there any avalanches in this area?

Whenever one goes into the backcountry where it snows a lot, there is always terrain that has avalanche hazard. Safety of our clients and ensuring a positive experience is our number one directive. Sound terrain choices are key to a safe and fun day. The guides are highly experienced in such terrain and are very use to looking at terrain and conditions with an eye for safety and avoidance of avalanche terrain. The process of terrain and conditions evaluation is the biggest consideration for the guides when deciding where to go. The guides have daily guide meetings to discuss weather, conditions and whether there are conditions that need to be watched out for or avoided such as persistent weak layers in the snow pack. In general it is not hard to find terrain in this area that is below a volatile angle for avalanches.

Will we be riding lifts and are we skiing at ski areas or in the backcountry?

This trip is designed to be a ski touring trip, which means human powered. This said and as you may have noticed on the itinerary, there are few days we may use lifts for one lift to start the day. In general, though we may be near lift-accessed terrain on some days, we will be in the backcountry.

Does it really snow a ton everyday?

It is not uncommon for it to snow every day for the weather patterns in this area are conducive to this type of conditions. This trip is scheduled at a time that is commonly very snowy and cold. There are no guarantees but the chances are very high that conditions will be as advertised. If it does not snow for long periods of time, there is plenty of north facing terrain to work and this will also allow us to get on the higher peaks.

Do I need a reservation?

The short answer is yes, a reservation is required with a minimum deposit of 50%. In fact we are offering an early sign up incentive of a free ski touring instructional day with Rob in the Wasatch on a prescheduled day if one signs up in full before September 31st , 2019. Please see JHMG cancellation policy in Privacy and policies for further details on trip insurance.

Is trip insurance required?

Trip insurance is not required but is highly recommended. Rescue insurance through membership of The American Alpine Club is also recommended. Please see JHMG Privacy and policies for further details on trip insurance.

Are there any other hidden costs I should know about?

The only costs that one might consider to be hidden are for the dinners during the trip on 5 of the 7 nights, any alcoholic drinks on the nights where dinner is provided, transportation to the hotel from the airport at the beginning of the trip, gratuities for the guides, lunches and one lift ticket at Kiroro.

Talk To Us

Here you’ll find online tools and information about joining us for a trip of a lifetime! To sign up for a trip, or if you have any questions, please call us. Listed on the left side of these pages are links that you may find useful, including printable forms and policies concerning a trip with JHMG. We encourage ALL prospective climbers to read our Preparation advice. Our office can help place you with others who are looking to climb.

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