Hakkoda & Mt Iwaki Freeride Tour
7 Nights I 6 Days Guiding
January 19, 2018 to January 26, 2018
$2350 PER PERSON
Hakkoda, Mt Iwaki & Aomori Spring
Pack your snowshoes or split board and get off the beaten path with us in Northern Honshu. We’ll spend a week exploring the regions’ best backcountry zones and secret resorts. Our guides are going to show you why this region receives its legendary reputation as possibly the holy grail of snowboarding in Japan. This is a virtually undiscovered backcountry area that is blessed with lots of snowfall, has absolutely no crowds, and freshies galore. On this tour you will spend 6 full days riding with our guides in the Aomori region, and get the opportunity to do 3 guided backcountry days where we explore the legendary Hakkoda and Mt Iwaki.
Hakkoda attracts riders who appreciate the joys of deep powder, off-piste riding and the backcountry. If you get to experience riding Hakkoda at its best, you’re in for one of the best snowboarding experiences of your life. The Hokkoda area is serviced by a single ropeway with a couple of ungroomed runs, and rest is one huge off-piste paradise with 654 metres of vertical drop. We use the ropeway to gain some quick vertical and then it’s all leg power to the top. We’ll use snowshoes or splitboard to reach the peak, then we’ll begin our descent. The scenery at the top Is incredible. You’ll get to descend through the Juhyuo (snow and frost covered trees), and then ride deep, untracked snow all the way back to the base of the ropeway. Expect long descents, face shots, and some of the best turns of your life. Once we reach the bottom, it’s time to do it all again.
To reach Mt Iwaki, we will take the gondola from Aomori Spring resort then hike to the peak of Iwaki-san. Once we’ve reached the top, there are many faces and bowls to explore on the way down. This area is a powder factory and a total playground, with small to medium sized drops, wind lips to slash, wide open areas to lay down high speed pow turns and tight trees to challenge.
SNOWFALL & CONDITIONS
The annual snowfall statistic for these areas is unknown, but a guesstimate would be around of 14-20 metres per season. Due to its northerly position, the snow quality is much lighter and dryer than most other Honshu ski resorts. These areas are known for their frequent big winter storms particularly in January. The infrequent bluebird days keep the crowds away which results in lots of fresh, untracked snow.
When we are on mountain, we keep our group size to a maximum of 6 people per guide for a more personal experience. This ensures you get the most out of your time with us, and keeping the group size small means less time waiting and more time riding powder!
UNLIMITED ACCESS TO POWDER BOARDS
Throughout the tour you’ve got unlimited access to our fleet of powder boards from Nitro Snowboards. You’ll get to ride the latest powder shapes from the Nitro 2018/19 range.
WHERE WE STAY
Our base for this tour is Aomori Spring Resort. This is a backcountry tour where you get to have the luxury of staying in a 4* ski-in/ski-out hotel. You’ll have access to all the necessary amenities, such as drying room, onsen, bar, buffet breakfasts and dinners with local Aomori produce, and access to one of the best parks in Honshu, complete with a 22ft halfpipe. This medium sized resort is not on the usual tourist path. What you can expect here is great tree riding, deep, untracked snow and no crowds.
Throughout the tour you can participate in as much or as little as you like. Here is a sample itinerary:
Arrival Day – January 19, 2018
Welcome to Japan! Make your way to the Aomori Airport or Aomori Shinkansen Station where we’ll arrange your transfers to the resort. Once you arrive, your guides will be on hand to check you in to our hotel. After checking into your hotel, you’ll have the afternoon free to settle in, grab a beer, have an onsen and relax. That night we’ll host you in the Rockwood bar where you’ll meet our guides who will run you through the tour, weather, equipment and answer any questions you have. After our welcome session, join our guides for our first of many amazing buffet dinners at the hotel. It’s a great opportunity to get to know the guests and guides over a few beers or sake’s.
Aomori Spring Resort – January 20 & 21, 2018
After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll aim to be on mountain by 8:30am. For our first two days on snow, we’re aiming to warm up riding at Aomori Spring Resort. You won’t have to go far to reach the resort base. Just step outside the front door and your steps away from the Gondola. Your guides will run a thorough safety briefing before we get on snow. Your guides are on hand to show you around the Aomori Spring Resort area. We’ll spend a full day on mountain, ride the trees and hunt out some powder stashes. We will spend two full days guiding you through the trees and gullies. There are so many natural hits here and so few people which makes it one of our favourites. There are opportunities for fresh tracks all day long. After riding hit the local onsen (natural hot springs) so you can rest the legs. After an awesome first day, we’ll catch up at our hotel bar for après and then have a buffet dinner at the Rockwood Hotel.
Mt Iwaki Backcountry Days (Optional)
January 22 & 23, 2018
After you have enjoyed a hearty breakfast, get prepared for your first backcountry day. One of our guides will discuss what to expect for weather, suggest layering and demonstrate several safety equipment functions. Your guides will conduct a further after briefing outside which includes Companion Rescue Training and how to properly use your avalanche transceiver, probe and shovel. They will also brief you on mountain safety. All of the guides are trained in avalanche rescue and have a wealth of knowledge that they are happy to share with you. Questions are welcomed and encouraged. Once we’ve briefed the group, we’ll load the Aomori Spring Gondola and travel to the highest part of the lift accessed area. From here it’s all leg power to the peak with your snowshoes or splitboard. If the weather is kind, we’ll aim to reach the summit of Mt Iwaki. If the weather isn’t suitable there are shorter touring options below the treeline with equally as fun terrain. We’ll aim to be on mountain for a full day.
For any guests not wanting to opt for the backcountry day, we’ll have our Mint Tours guides on-hand to help you explore more of the resort. Just by following our guides you’ll pick up useful tips and tricks that will help you improve your freeriding. Get into the trees, cruise the groomers, or hit up the park or superpipe for some laps. We’ll have our Mint Tours guides on-hand to ride with you all day and to keep the good times rolling.
After riding, head back to the hotel for a few hard earned beers and an onsen before dinner. We’ll have a buffet dinner at the Rockwood Hotel followed by a few drinks in the Rockwood Bar.
Aomori Spring Resort – January 24, 2018
After breakfast meet your guides. We take it a little easier today as most of the group will be showing signs of fatigue after completing two big backcountry days. Today we give the legs a rest and ride lift accessed terrain. Follow your guides into the trees for another full day exploring the trees and gullies at Aomori Spring. If you want a change of pace, you can spend some time in the park. Aomori Spring maintains a great park setup, including a 22ft halfpipe, as it’s a training ground for elite snowboarders. After riding, head to the onsen, have a few drinks at the bar and then meet the group for dinner.
Hakkoda Backcountry Day – January 25, 2018
After breakfast meet your guides in the lobby and get ready for an early departure. We’ll load the van with everyone’s equipment and make the drive to Hakkoda. Once we arrive, we’ll meet our Hakkoda backcountry guides who will run through a safety briefing before we make our first ascent. Depending on weather, we will aim to complete 3 – 4 runs. For each ascent, you will need to purchase a one-way trip on the ropeway which costs approximately $14 AUD. We don’t include the lift ticket, as it’s up to each individual how many ascents they would like to make. Once we have alighted from the ropeway, it’s time to switch to touring mode and we’ll make our approach to the peak with snowshoes or splitboard. We’ll make our approach through the frost covered trees, and then it’s time to strap in for our descent. What you can expect is long, gladed runs in deep, untracked powder that is anywhere from boot to waist deep. After a long day, we’ll aim to stop at a local traditional onsen, that is over three centuries old. This traditional onsen is a rarity in Japan as it includes a male only onsen, a female only onsen, and a konyoku onsen, which is a co-ed onsen.
For any guests not wanting to opt for the backcountry day, you can either stay at Aomori Spring, or join us for our trip to Hakkoda. While Hakkoda is a backcountry mecca, there is also some marked runs which you can explore at your own pace. Get into the trees or cruise the groomers and be amazed at the scenery at this resort.
Once back at the hotel we’ll celebrate our big week of riding with a few beers, a hearty buffet dinner and some sake samplers and karaoke for anyone who is game.
Departure Day – January 26, 2018
We say goodbye, high fives all round after an epic week of riding. We will transfer everyone back to Shin Aomori Station or Shin Aomori Airport to continue on their journey in Japan. For anyone wanting to continue travelling in the Northern Honshu region, join us on our Good Times Japan Tour in Appi, Hachimantai Resort Shimokura and Shizukuishi from 28 January.
Your tour includes:
- 7 nights twin share, ensuite accommodation, Rockwood Hotel & Spa, Aomori Spring
- 7 Buffet breakfasts at the Aomori Spring Hotel
- 7 Buffet dinners at the Aomori Spring Hotel
- 6 days of resort guiding
- 6 day lift ticket
- Return transfers from Shin Aomori Airport to accommodation / or return transfers from Shin Aomori Station to accommodation
This tour is suitable for intermediate snowboarders.
For any guests wanting to add the backcountry days, you must be able to ride in powder and variable conditions. Good physical fitness is also required.
We have 3 Optional Backcountry Days scheduled for the tour.
Mt Iwaki Backcountry Days are scheduled for 22 & 23 January. The cost for the backcountry day is ¥20,000. This includes a full day of professional guiding, lift pass, rental equipment and insurance.
Hakkoda Backcountry Day is scheduled for 25 January. Please advise us if you would like to participate at time of booking and we will advise charges.
Equipment: For the backcountry days, all guests are required to carry backcountry equipment including a pack, beacon, shovel and probe. Touring equipment is also required. Please bring snowshoes or splitboard and poles. For a full gear list, please contact us. A limited selection of rental equipment is available, please advise us if you require rentals at time of booking.
As part of the tour we have included return transfers from Shin-Aomori Station to the Rockwood Hotel at Aomori Spring. On arrival day your guides will meet you at Shin-Aomori Station and transfer you to our hotel. We request that all guests arrive at Shin-Aomori Station before 3:00pm.
The easiest way to travel to Shin-Aomori Station is on the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo. The trip takes 3 hours. Rail passes can be purchased from Mint Tours for ¥19,000 or you can purchase a Rail Pass from Tokyo Station for ¥20,000.
Below is the Shinkansen train schedule from Tokyo Station to Shin-Aomori Station:
- Departs Tokyo Station 9:36am
Arrives Shin-Aomori Station 12:35pm
- Departs Tokyo Station 10:20am
Arrives Shin-Aomori Station 1:29pm
- Departs Tokyo Station 11:20am
Arrives Shin-Aomori Station 2:43pm
This is a small group tour with a maximum of 6 guests per guide. We have limited availability, so please contact us to check availability:
Email: [email protected]
Call: 1300 205 609
To secure your spot on the tour a $500 deposit per person required. The balance is payable 90 days prior to departure.
All bookings are subject to Mint Tours terms and conditions and subject to availability at time of booking.