Nagano Cat Ski & Backcountry Tour
8 nights I 3 Cat Ski days I 2 Backcountry Days
February 05, 2018 to February 13, 2018
$3550 per person
Get off the beaten path and explore Nagano’s best backcountry zones, local onsens and culture with our bi-lingual guides leading the way.
On this 8 night tour we ride at two of the best powder destinations in Nagano – including a private cat ski area and backcountry zones within the Japan Alps. This tour is running at the peak of Japan’s snow season, so be prepared. The consistent storms bring massive quantities of light, dry powder snow to this region. Your bi-lingual guides have an in depth knowledge of the areas and will be able to find any type of terrain to suit your riding style – whether that be riding mellow tree runs in powder or open powder bowls to steep chutes. At the end of each day, relax in amazing natural onsen (hot springs).
Our first stop for this tour is a small onsen village that is off the usual tourist path. From here we can easily access a local backcountry area where well have 3 days of private cat ski access to this zone. The terrain out here ranges from alpine lines to undulating tree riding. For the second half of the tour, we move to the well known resort of Hakuba where we’ll spend our days exploring the Japan Alps. We have access to backcountry terrain in Tsugaike, Norikura, Cortina, Happo & Hakuba 47. We keep the itinerary flexible so we can find the best conditions and terrain on the day. We’ll have our qualified guide leading the way who has years of experience riding in these areas as well as reading the conditions and terrain. Outside of the riding we will be visiting authentic onsens throughout the region to give you a local Japanese experience.
3 Days Cat Skiing
We have a cat ski operation at our disposal for 3 full days so we can access the amazing terrain and powder snow in this area. You don’t have to compete for fresh lines here, we have the cat ski zone just for our group, with the exclusive use of snowcat’s to shuttle us to the top after each run.
2 Guided Backcountry Days
From our base in Hakuba we have our local guides on-hand to take us to the best zones on the day. Each day our guides will assess the snow and conditions then load up the
For the first stop on the tour we Twe 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 experience not to be missed. For our second stop on tour, we stay in Hakuba Happo in comfortable twin share accommodation with an onsen that overlooks the surrounding forrest. Each day a buffet breakfast is served at the hotel.
Demo boards from ILAHU Boards & Nitro Snowboards
This tour is supported by ILAHU Boards who have provided us with a fleet of handcrafted powder surf boards for guests to use. On this tour, you’ll get to ride these hand-crafted shapes at our private ski resort. We will also have our fleet of powder boards from Nitro Snowboards on hand for guests to test out in the deep Japan powder.
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 -1 to -10 degrees Celsius.
Professional Photographer on hand
During our cat ski sessions, we’ll have professional snowboard photographer on hand capturing all the action. At the end of the sessions you’ll be able to download all the images from the day.
While you can bring your regular snowboard to ride, you can also try out the Ilahu boards so you can experience 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.
Your tour includes:
- 3 days cat skiing, including 3 days on-mountain guiding with professional backcountry guides
- Guided decent from Cat Ski zone, back to our accommodation (approximately 2 hours)
- 2 guided backcountry days in Hakuba area
- Photographer on-hand during Cat Ski Sessions
- Access to our demo fleet of ILAHU Powder Surf Boards
- Demo Snowboards – we will have a range of powder boards from Nitro Snowboards for guests to test out in the deep Nagano powder!
- 3 days lift ticket for access to cat ski area
- 4 nights twin share accommodation in a 4 star, traditional, 240 year old Ryokan including breakfasts and dinners
- 4 nights twin share accommodation at Hotel Cultured, Hakuba, includes breakfast
- Daily transfers from Ryokan to Private Ski Resort
Arrive – Monday 5 February, 2018
Welcome to Japan! Make your way to Nagano Station where your guides will meet you and transfer you to our accommodation 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 guides and the master shapers from ILAHU boards 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 6 February, 2018
- Spending a full day cat skiing in the backcountry
- Mastering snow surfing at ‘Zone 1’
- Checking out all the photo’s from the day back at the lodge
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 ILAHU 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 pow-surfing session and explore plenty more lines. After our snow-surf session, 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. Throughout the day we’ll have professional snowboard photographer Jani Kärppä capturing all the action. At the end, he’ll send through all the shots so you’ll have photo’s to get all your buddies at home frothing.
Wednesday 7 February, 2018
- 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
- Finding out how the ILAHU boards are hand crafted with our ‘Shapers Session’
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 (Zone 2), 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. Throughout the day we’ll have our professional snowboard photographer capturing all the action so you’ll have some great photo’s to share at the end of the day. 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 another pow-surfing session and explore some more lines. 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 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. After dinner, join us for a shaper’s talk. Our good friends at ILAHU Boards will provide some insights into how they hand craft their powder surf boards.
Cat Ski & Pow Surfing Day – Thursday 8 February, 2018
- 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. Of course our photographer is on-hand to capture all the pow turns. 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. After dinner we’ll check out the shots from our final day riding.
Transfer to Hakuba – Friday 9 February, 2018
After breakfast we pack up and get ready to depart. After an amazing experience it’s time to transfer to Hakuba to continue our travels. Once we arrive in Hakuba, you’ve got the afternoon free. In the evening we’ll re-group for dinner at a local Izakaya.
Hakuba Backcountry Days – Saturday 10 & 11 February, 2018
After breakfast at the hotel, your guides will meet you and brief you for the day ahead. For our backcountry days, we keep the itinerary flexible so your guide can hunt down the best conditions all day, every day. Each day your guide will assess the conditions and decide which is the best place to ride based on weather, snowfall and snowpack stability. Each day we’ll load up the van’s and drive to our chosen area. This flexibility ensures that we will find you the best snow and conditions all day, every day! If conditions are right, we will have access to steep untracked tree runs and gullies that run back into the resort. After a long day we’ll head back to the hotel for après and dinner.
Hakuba Day – Monday 12 February, 2018
Today is an unguided day, where you can explore your resort of choice in Hakuba. Speak to your guides at breakfast for some tips on where to head. In the evening we will regroup for our final dinner together at one of our favourite Izakaya’s and a few sakes.
Departure Day – Tuesday 13 February, 2018
All good things must come to come to an end, and after an epic week riding deep, Japanese powder we will transfer you back to the airport and say goodbye. For anyone wanting to extend the trip, join our next tour, Antti’s Autti’s Aizu Tour. Details HERE
This tour is suitable for confident intermediate to advanced snowboarders with good physical fitness and powder riding experience.
All guests are required to carry backcountry equipment for this tour including a pack, beacon, shovel and probe.
To secure your spot on the tour please contact us. We require a $500 deposit per person with balance payable 60 days prior to departure. All bookings are subject to Mint Tours terms and conditions and subject to availability at time of booking.
For bookings contact us:
Phone 1300 205 609
Email [email protected]
– backcountry safety equipment
– touring equipment (snowshoes / split board & poles)
– lift tickets for Hakuba
– Inter resort transfer from Pow Surf accommodation to Hakuba (allow approximately $30 AUD)