Nagano Cat Ski Tour
7 Nights I 5 Days Guiding
February 01, 2019 to February 08, 2019
$2850 PER PERSON
Cat Skiing, Freeriding in the Backcountry & Pow Surfing at a private resort
Spend a week with us in Japan, at the peak of the powder season. This will be a backcountry freeride and powder surfing experience. We start the tour in Myoko and ride the nearby resorts of Seki Onsen and Arai. Then we head to our own private cat ski operation. You don’t have to compete for fresh lines here. We have the cat ski operation at our disposal for 3 full days so we can access the amazing terrain in this area. We will ride big backcountry lines, accessed by snowcat’s and mellow hikes, as well as pow surf on yukiita (binding-less snowboards). We will have the resort to ourselves, with the exclusive use of snowcat’s to shuttle us to the top after each run. Throughout the tour we stay in a 240 year old traditional Japanese Ryokan, with outdoor onsen overlooking frozen waterfalls, and have amazing locally sourced breakfasts and dinners included. This is an authentic Japan experience not to be missed.
SNOW & CONDITIONS
Early February is the best time of year to experience powder surfing in Northern Nagano. What you can expect is light dry snow, perfect for powder surfing. Temps will be cold, with temperatures ranging from -5 to -15 degrees Celsius.
BACKCOUNTRY & FREERIDE SESSIONS
Each day your guides will take you to a different zone to ride. We may make short ascents with snowshoes, take a chairlift, or use the snowcat’s to access another zone. Each day will be different and we will make the decision based on weather and snowfall. There are so many riding options in this area.
LEARN HOW TO RIDE POW SURF BOARDS
While you can bring your regular snowboard to ride in the powder, you can also try powder surfing on binding-free boards. Powder Surfing at it’s core, is a return to the roots of snowboarding. You’ll get to experience binding-free riding, propelled by gravity, similar to surfing and skateboarding. The lack of bindings allows exploration of how stance and position affect the ride. It conveys the spirit and original stoke of surfing and gives the rider a connection with nature. It opens up the backcountry and backyard hills to new forms of riding and exploration.
- You’ll get to spend 3 days cat skiing at our own Private Ski Area
- You’ll spend three days powder surfing & snowboarding in the Japan backcountry
- You’ll get to chase the powder with our guides in Myoko
- You’ll get to learn how to pow surf WATCH HERE
- You’ll get to experience Yukiita snowboarding culture in Japan while travelling with our local guides
- You’ll be blown away by the area and scenery, staying in a 240 year old Ryokan with steaming onsen overlooking frozen waterfalls
We have limited spots available for this tour.
Your 7 night tour includes:
- 3 days cat skiing at Private Ski area in Northern Nagano, including 3 days on-mountain guiding with professional backcountry guides
- 3 days of powder surfing instruction and assistance
- Access to our demo fleet of Nitro Powder Boards
- Guided decent from Cat Ski zone, back to our Ryokan accommodation (approximately 2 hour session)
- 3 days lift ticket during Cat Ski
- 4 nights twin share accommodation in a 4 star, traditional, 240 year old Ryokan
- 4 days breakfast with locally sourced produce at Cat Ski Lodge
- 4 nights dinner with locally sourced produce at Cat Ski Lodge
- Use of indoor and outdoor onsen at Ryokan
- Return transfers from Nagano Station to Ryokan
- Daily transfers from Ryokan to Private Ski Area
- 3 nights twin share accommodation in Myoko
- 3 days breakfast in Myoko
- 3 nights dinner in Myoko
- 2 days of professional guiding in Myoko
- 2 days private transfers to Seki Onsen & Arai
- Hosted by Mint Tours
Arrive – Friday 1 February, 2019
Welcome to Japan! Make your way to Myoko Kogen Station where your guides will meet you and transfer you to our accommodation. That night we’ll host you in the lodge where you’ll meet our guides who will run you through the tour, weather, equipment and answer any questions you have. We’ll then enjoy a Welcome Dinner at the lodge.
2 Days Guiding – Saturday 2 February & Sunday 3 February, 2019
After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll aim to depart by 8:30am. Our base in Myoko gives us easy access to over 9 resorts in the region such as Akakura Onsen, Akakura Kanko, Ikenotaira Onsen, Myoko Suginohara, Seki Onsen, Arai, Madarao, Tangram and Kurohime. We keep the itinerary flexible so you can ride at the best resort on the day. We’ll load up the vans and make the drive to the resort base. Your guides will show you around the resort area. We’ll spend a full day on mountain, and hunt out some powder stashes. After riding we’ll stop off at one of the local onsen (natural hot springs) so you can rest the legs. Each evening we’ll catch up at our hotel bar for après and then enjoy a home cooked dinner at the lodge.
Transfer – Monday 4 February, 2019
After breakfast it’s time to check out of the hotel. You’ve got the morning free to explore the village, or you can spend the morning riding the linked resorts of Myoko Akakura Kanko and Akakura Onsen. At 1:30pm we’ll depart our lodge and transfer to our Cat Ski Operation, located in a scenic hot spring village. After checking into our traditional Japanese ryokan, you’ll have the afternoon free to settle in, meet the other guests, grab a beer, have an onsen and relax. In the evening, we’ll regroup and host you in the Ryokan bar where you’ll meet our backcountry 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 dinners at the hotel. It’s a great opportunity to get to know the guests and guides over a few beers or local sake’s.
Cat Ski & Pow Surfing Day – Tuesday 5 February, 2019
- Spending a full day cat skiing in the backcountry
- Mastering snow surfing at ‘Zone 1’
After breakfast at our lodge, we’ll load up the van and drive to the local ski area. Today we’ll have our first snow-surf session at ‘Zone 1’ which has the easiest terrain to master the art of pow-surfing. Expect mellow, wide open undulating terrain with sparse trees and if the conditions are right, deep powder. Zone 1 is the perfect area for getting comfortable riding the pow surf boards. On arrival at the area, our guides will brief us about our resort and backcountry location, provide us with safety info about the area and safe operation of the snowcat’s so we’re ready for the day. For anyone wanting to get a few warm up runs, in-resort, there will be plenty of opportunity to do so. We’ll make our approach to the ‘surf grounds’ with snowmobile & snowcat. We’ll then divide into smaller groups and spend the morning snow-surfing with our guides. Your guides are on-hand to provide advice and instruction on how to ride the powder surf boards. It typically takes a few runs to feel comfortable. After each descent, we’ll load back into the cat and ride back up to the drop off zone. When it’s lunch time, it’s time to get out of the elements and escape the cold. We’ll make our descent from the pow-surfing zone, back through the resort and in to the mountain cafe at the resort base. Tuck into some hearty and delicious local foods including Oyaki and bowls of steaming hot soba noodles. In the afternoon we’ll load up the cats and head out for another session. We may pow surf, or use the cat’s to access a different zone to ride. We’ll typically switch to our snowboards for the afternoon session so we can access some more technical terrain. After riding, our traditional Japan experience keeps on going. We’ll finish the day in the outdoor onsen and then have an amazing traditional Japanese dinner with local delicacies including Shinshu beef, washed down with a few more ice-cold Asahi’s and a local sampler of sake’s.
Wednesday 6 February, 2019
- Spending a full day cat skiing in the backcountry
- Riding more challenging terrain with longer descents
- Our final run is a thigh burning 1 hour descent from ‘Zone 2’ all the way back to the village
After a hearty Japanese breakfast at hotel, we’ll load up the van and drive to the local ski area. Now that you’ve mastered snow-surfing, we will head to a different zone, at a higher altitude with more challenging terrain and more vertical. On arrival at the area, our guides will brief us about our backcountry location and provide us with safety info about the area. Again, if you’re itching to get a few warm-up runs in, you can get some laps in at the resort. Once we’re ready, we’ll make our approach to todays ‘surf grounds’ with snowmobile & snowcat. We’ll then divide into smaller groups and spend the morning snow surfing with our guides. After each descent, we’ll load back into the cat and ride back up to the drop off zone. When it’s lunch time, we’ll make our descent from the pow-surfing zone, back to the resort and in to the mountain cafe. In the afternoon, we’ll head out for a freeride session and explore some more lines with our snowboards. After our last cat ski run, we’ve organised a special final run of the day. Instead of driving back to our hotel, we’re going to take the group along a backcountry touring route so you can ride all the way back to the local hot spring town where we are staying. The descent takes a little over an hour. After our thigh burning final run, we’ll finish off the day in the outdoor foot onsen and then have another traditional Japanese dinner, washed down with a few more ice cold Asahi’s and a local sampler of sake’s.
Cat Ski, Backcountry & Pow Surfing Day – Thursday 7 February, 2019
- Spending a full day cat skiing in the ‘Premium Zone’
- Testing out the pow-surf board and Nitro shapes in the backcountry
- Riding high alpine powder bowls and challenging terrain
After breakfast, we’ll load up the van and make the short drive to the ski area. For our final day of cat skiing and pow-surfing we’re headed to the ‘Premium Zone’, which has high alpine terrain. The Premium Zone sits at 2075 metres, so you can expect super light, dry un-tracked snow, even if it hasn’t snowed for a few days. The Premium zone has the most technical and challenging lines and the longest descents into deep powder bowls that are the feature of this zone. Today you can ride your regular board or if you’re up for a challenge, you can take out the pow-surf board also. We’ll spend a full day riding deep powder and using the snow cats to assist with our ascents. To reach the peak, there will be short hikes using snow shoes and leg power to reach the top. All hikes are maximum 30 minutes. At the end of the day we’ll ride from the peak, all the way back to the resort base. If you’ve still got enough energy you can get some more turns in within the resort boundaries. We’ll then head back to the lodge for our final night together. We’ll have dinner and enjoy some well-deserved beers, while enjoying our amazing Japanese banquet dinner.
Depart – Friday 8 February, 2019
After breakfast we pack up and get ready to depart. After an amazing experience it’s time to transfer everyone back to Nagano station to continue on your travels.
Cat Ski Lodge
We spend 4 nights staying at a luxury Ryokan, located in a small hot spring village. As we’re staying in a traditional Japanese Ryokan, all bed’s are futons. If you’d like a little more space or privacy, single share rooms can be arranged. The Ryokan has private and public, indoor and outdoor onsen. Breakfasts and dinners are included as part of the tour package.
We spend 3 nights staying in a traditional Japanese Lodge, located in Myoko Kogen. Throughout the tour guests stay in twin share accommodation. All rooms are simply furnished with 2 single beds and can offer glimpses of Mt Myoko that will have you feeling zen in no time. Each room has great heating, access to a male or female bathroom, TV and free high speed WiFi. The hotel also has a drying room, laundry facilities, and most importantly a common area which serves ice cold Asahi beer on tap. Breakfasts and dinners are included as part of the tour package.
Mint Tours Guides
Your professional guides have an in-depth knowledge of the local area, terrain and conditions. You can be assured we will always find you the best snow conditions available.
Small Group Numbers
Our guest to guide ratio is 6 : 1. We like to keep our group sizes small so you can get the most out of your time with us.
Demo powder boards from Nitro Snowboards
All Mint Tours guests get exclusive access to our demo fleet of powder boards from the Nitro Snowboards range.
Pow Surf boards
Bring your own pow surf board, or rent one for the trip. We have local handcrafted Yukiita pow surf boards available to rent.
If you’re travelling solo you won’t be alone. In fact our tour is perfect for solo travellers, we just match you up with someone to room with for the entire time.
You don’t need previous experience riding powder-surf boards to join this tour. We will provide instruction and choose terrain that is suitable for quick progression.