Hokkaido Heli Skiing
The Powderhounds headed out heli skiing on Shiribetsu (near Niseko Japan) with Hokkaido Backcountry Club...
We had been on the road (and a lot of trains) for 8 weeks for our Japan skiing research odyssey. We’d been spoiled with soooo much fresh powder on our trip and had become powder snobs, so for our last day of skiing, we knew it needed to be pretty special to impress us!
Heli skiing in itself is a pretty exceptional experience, but we were a little nervous about the weather because it had been dumping with snow in Hokkaido the previous couple of days. Thankfully the weather gods could not have been kinder to us for our heli skiing day. The bluebird day we scored was one out of the bag.
It was hard not to get excited as we felt the helicopter lift off from the staging area near Rusutsu, but the excitement paled into insignificance when we got a better look at the terrain we’d be skiing. Unlike a few Japanese heli ski outfits that offer some rather lame heli skiing, Shiribetsu is a volcano that has some delightfully steep pitches and a range of trees.
When we got our first sniff of the powder (we’re powder hounds so we have to sniff powder!), we were in heaven. Hokkaido potentially has the best powder in the world and Shiribetsu-dake was no exception. Particularly on the north facing aspects the powder was divine. Sure the powder wasn’t chest deep but the face shots were still coming thick and fast.
The runs were delightfully long and some of the trees were naturally gladed and others a little tighter. The starts of the runs were reasonably steep and they mellowed out towards the bottom. Overall the heli skiing was the perfect combination of varied terrain, amazing powder, great views, and plenty of stoke!
By the end of the day we’d scored a lot of vertical and our powder cravings had well and truly been satiated. Actually we were exhausted! It was great to sit around in the day lodge with some new-found friends over some après ski bevvies. Not surprisingly there were a lot of high fives!
Our day out heli skiing near Niseko Hokkaido was absolutely phenomenal - what an amazing finale to our trip!!
For more information and the Powderhounds’ review of the HBC heli skiing near Niseko see Powderhounds.com.