Mint Chicks Japan Freeride Tour
7 Nights I 6 Days Coaching & Guiding
January 16, 2019 to January 23, 2019
$2790 PER PERSON
If you want to take the next step and start riding backcountry terrain then this is the tour for you. We spend 6 days riding Hokkaido’s best lift accessed, resort and backcountry zones. Your guide and coach is one of the most experienced and qualified professionals working in Hokkaido who has a lifetime of experience riding in these areas as well as reading the conditions and terrain. The terrain you’ll ride ranges from big mountain alpine lines to undulating tree riding and expect some of the deepest, lightest and driest powder in the world. This tour is suitable for strong intermediate snowboarders who are comfortable riding powder.
COACHING & GUIDING
You’ll spend 6 days riding with your coach and guide. You’ll get tips and feedback to improve your freeriding, including riding trees, steeps, drops, deep powder and how to read the terrain. You will also learn how to use avalanche safety equipment, and gain knowledge on travelling safely in backcountry terrain. We keep our group size to maximum of 6 ladies, so you can get the most out of the sessions. This ensures you get the most out of your time with us, and keeping the groups small means less time waiting and more time riding powder!
- Improve your freeriding with tips and feedback from our qualified coach
- Learn how to use avalanche safety equipment in our training sessions
- Learn about travelling safely in backcountry terrain
- Chase the big winter storms that Hokkaido is famous for
- You’re guaranteed to ride the best snow every day with our flexible itinerary
- We’ve got access to 11 resorts, so you can expect to ride deep, untracked snow every day
- Beat the crowds as our guides show you the best zones
- Ride with a small group of 6 people
- Head off the beaten path and ride at some of the lesser known resorts.
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 and snowfall. 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!
RIDE THE BEST RESORTS IN HOKKAIDO
We keep the itinerary flexible so you can ride at the best resort on the day. Our base for this tour is Niseko, which gives us easy access to over 11 resorts in the region such as Hanazono, Hirafu, Niseko Village, Annupuri, Rusutsu, Kiroro, Moiwa, Sapporo Kokusai, Teine, Otaru Tenguyama and Asarigawa Onsen.
When we are on mountain, we keep our group size to a maximum of 6 people for a more personal experience between our guests and guides. This ensures you get the most out of your time with us, and keeping the groups small means less time waiting and more time riding powder!
SNOW & CONDITIONS
Hokkaido scores it’s biggest storms during January. What you can expect on this tour is cold temperatures and deep powder. Most days you can expect to ride powder that’s anywhere from boot to waist deep. Even if we don’t get fresh snow overnight, the cold temperatures and our local knowledge will ensure you’ll be able to ride light dry snow days after a storm.
We make sure all our guests stay in quality accommodation that’s in the best location. Throughout the tour you’ll stay at one of Niseko’s newest hotels, Always Niseko. Our comfortable twin share rooms are equipped with 2 single beds and offer glimpses of Mt Yotei that will have you feeling zen in no time. Each room has a great heating, private ensuite bathroom, TV, and free WiFi. Every morning you’ve got a hot buffet breakfast to enjoy in the restaurant and each night you’ve got access to the in-house bar.
UNLIMITED ACCESS TO POWDER BOARDS
Throughout the tour you’ve got access to our fleet of powder boards from Nitro Snowboards. You’ll get to test the latest powder shapes from the Nitro 2018/19 range.
Each day you’ll rise early for a group breakfast at our hotel. Your guide and coach will assess the weather and snow conditions on a day by day basis. They will make a call on the best and safest areas to ride each morning and we will drive out the the chosen location in our private van. Each day you will ride a new resort, improving your freeriding with tips and feedback as well as learning about snow safety and travelling safely in backcountry terrain, through hands on learning sessions. After riding we’ll stop at a local onsen before returning to our accomodation. Each night your Mint Chicks host will take you out to some traditional restaurants and bars to immerse yourself in the amazing culture and share a few stories about the days epic turns!
We keep the itinerary flexible so we can ride at the best resort on the day. Here is a sample itinerary:
Day 1 Arrival Day
You’ll be met at Sapporo Chitose Airport and transferred by bus to your hotel in Niseko. After checking into your hotel, you’ll have the afternoon free to explore the surrounding area. That night we’ll host you in the Always Niseko bar where you’ll meet our guides who will run you through the tour, weather, equipment and answer any questions you have.
Day 2 – Niseko
After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll aim to be on the mountain by 8:30am. We’ll load up the vans and make the short drive to either the Annupuri resort base or the Hanazono resort base so we can get first tracks. Your guide will run a thorough safety briefing in the morning and explain and demonstrate the use and function of your snow safety equipment. Your guides will show you around the Niseko United resort area which includes Hanazono, Hirafu, Niseko Village and Annupuri. 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. After an awesome first day, we’ll catch up at our hotel bar for après and then visit one of our favourite local restaurants.
Day 3 – Rusutsu
Breakfast at the hotel. We’ll load the vans and then make the 40 minute drive to Rusutsu. While some of the more popular resorts in the region might become tracked out by lunch time, great lines can still be found here even a day or two after snow, making it perfect for days without fresh snowfall. Interestingly, even though it’s only a 40 minute drive from Niseko, the weather patterns can be completely different – it can be snowing heavily in Rusutsu but clear skies in Niseko (or vice-versa) so we’ll keep a sharp eye on the weather systems so we can find the best conditions on each day. We will spend the day guiding you through the trees and gullies of Rusustu. So many natural hits here and so few people which makes it one of our favourites. In the afternoon we’ll check out one of the secret local onsen and then head back to our hotel for après followed by dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 4 – Sapporo Kokusai / Teine
After breakfast we’ll jump in the van and drive towards the Sea of Japan for a visit to either Sapporo Kokusai or Teine. These resorts are located on the coast of Hokkaido and get the some of the most consistent snowfall on the island. You can expect lots of deep un tracked powder on offer, both on and off-piste. Follow your guides into the trees to find some of the steepest tree runs in Hokkaido. After riding, we’ll head back to the hotel for après and dinner.
Day 5 – Kiroro
After an early breakfast at the hotel, we’ll load the vans and head northeast to ride at a resort which will likely be the highlight of the tour – Kiroro. Pack your snorkel as this powder gem scores some of the highest snowfall in Hokkaido. In Kiroro we’ll take advantage of the new gate system and epic terrain it accesses. We will have access to steep untracked tree runs and gullies that run back into the resort. After a long day in the trees, we’ll stop off at a local onsen and then head back to the hotel for après and dinner.
Day 6 – Otaru Tenguyama
After breakfast we’ll load the van and drive towards the Sea of Japan to the local port town of Otaru. Here we will ride at Otaru Tenguyama which is just a short 10 minute drive from the city centre. The resort has a cable car, which gives us access to this great little local secret! On a clear day this resort has amazing views down to Otaru city and out to the Sea of Japan, but don’t bank on too many clear days because this place gets regular snow all season. In the afternoon we’ll head into the town centre so you can view the historic Otaru Canal which is now lined with cafes and shops in converted old warehouses. For anyone wanting to sample the freshest seafood in Japan, we’ll make a stop at one of the famous sushi restaurants. If we have time on the way home we’ll stop at an onsen and then head back to Always Niseko for dinner and drinks.
Day 7 – Moiwa
After breakfast we’ll load the vans and set out for our final day riding. We’ll stay close to home and ride Moiwa. This smaller resort is part of the Niseko range but not connected to the Niseko United area by lifts. Moiwa is serviced by just 3 lifts but the has a reputation for the powder hungry. We will spend the day riding the epic trees and powder bowls before checking out one of the amazing onsens close by. The hot springs out this way are by far some of our favourites in Japan! For our final night we’ll head into the local town of Kutchan for dinner at one of the best Izakaya’s around. Followed by some drinks and karaoke at one of the great local bars.
Day 8 Departure Day
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.
Your tour includes:
- 7 nights twin share accommodation with ensuite, Always Niseko
- Buffet breakfast daily
- Return airport transfers, New Chitose Airport to Hirafu Welcome Centre
- Return transfers from Hirafu Welcome Centre to Always Niseko (arrival & departure day)
- 6 days of private transfers to / from selected resort
- 6 days of freeride coaching and guiding
- Backcountry safety briefings and instruction sessions
- Free use of backcountry safety equipment, including 25 litre pack, beacon, shovel and probe
- Free use of demo powder boards from Nitro Snowboards
- Mint Tours guides on hand throughout the tour
- Visits to local onsens
- Visits to local restaurants
- Welcome pack with resort info.
Please note that lift tickets are not included for this tour. As this is a powder hunter tour with no set itinerary, guests will be required to purchase lift tickets on the day at the chosen resort. Lift tickets range in price from Y3,500 – Y8,000 per day (AUD $40 – $90).
Throughout the tour we will spend 6 days riding the resorts around the area. These range from big resorts with world-class infrastructure to smaller local resorts where we will have the slopes to ourselves. Some of the resorts we have to choose from are:
Niseko United is made up of 4 interconnected resorts, Hanazono, Hirafu, Niseko Village & Annupuri. It’s located on the western side of Hokkaido, on Japan’s north island. It’s proximity to the ocean means that cold wind blows down from Siberia over the warm currents in the Sea of Japan, forming storms that hit Hokkaido and drop huge amounts of cold blower powder snow. These storms can hang around for days or weeks on end, hence how Niseko earns its powder factory reputation. The surrounding mountains also score huge amounts of snow and are usually much quieter on a powder day, meaning more opportunities for untracked turns.
Kiroro A large resort with great lift infrastructure and facilities. Kiroro usually gets around the same amount of snow as the world famous Niseko, sometimes more! Kiroro also has some of the best side country terrain in Japan, with gates gaining access to beautiful untracked tree runs and gullies that run back into the resort.
Moiwa The terrain at Moiwa may be short with only 470 metres of vertical, but it’s very sweet because it’s generally quiet. The resort is serviced by three chair lifts, which provide access to six runs but the highlight here is the many off-piste lines through the trees. Moiwa has some fun terrain with gate access to beautiful untracked tree runs and gullies that run back into the resort.
Rusutsu Resort is already on the radar for many powder enthusiasts, but as it’s remained relatively quiet, you can be sure that on a powder day the trees will stay untouched for long enough to tire you out! Your guide will be with you all day to get you the best turns. A local favourite.
Sapporo Kokusai is located on the coast of Hokkaido and gets some of the most consistent snowfall on the island. We’ll be riding here mid-week, which means there will be lots of deep un tracked powder on offer, both on and off-piste. Follow your guides into the trees to find some of the steepest tree runs in Hokkaido.
Sapporo Teine is also located on the coast and scores huge amounts of snow throughout the season. The highland area has lots of powder stashes in amongst the trees and various gullies to explore. When this place is on, it’s always a favourite.
Asarigawa Onsen is a small local resort that tops out at 660m but still has 540 meters of vertical to get some powder turns on! It’s unlikely you will see many other people here, this place is a local secret and we love it for it’s empty lift lines and fresh tracks all day!
Otaru Tenguyama Located on the Sea of Japan above the historical port town of Otaru. The resort has a cable car, which gives us access to this great little local secret! On a clear day this resort has amazing views down to Otaru city and out to the Sea of Japan, but don’t bank on too many clear days because this place gets regular snow all season. Your guide has got this place on lock down and will get you into the tree’s to score some steep lines in deep, un-tracked Hokkaido powder.
We stay at one of Niseko’s newest hotels, Always Niseko. Throughout the tour guests stay in twin share accommodation with a great buffet breakfast included. Our comfortable twin share rooms are equipped with 2 single beds and can offer glimpses of Mt Yotei that will have you feeling zen in no time. Each room has great heating, a private bathroom with shower and bath tub, TV, storage and free high speed WiFi. The hotel also has a large drying room, laundry facilities, and most importantly a great restaurant and bar which serves up all our favourite Japanese food and great local craft beers and sake.
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. Our goal is to get everybody on tour enjoying themselves and pushing your riding in a relaxed and fun environment.
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. There’s nothing worse than riding with a large group, especially on a powder day! We have our guides on-snow every day. At night we’ll have our hosts on hand to show you around the local area.
Unlimited Access to Powder Boards
All Mint Tours guests get exclusive access to our demo fleet of powder boards from the Nitro Snowboards range.
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. Not only are our guides with you on-mountain during the day, they keep the stoke going well into the night, so you’ll always have people to socialise with and places to go.