Niseko-Grand-Hirafu

Niseko Grand Hirafu

Niseko actually consists of three areas; Grand Hirafu, Annupuri and Hanazono, all linked together by lifts at the top of the mountain and shuttle buses at the bottom. The main entry point for most is Grand Hirafu, home of the Hirafu Welcome Center and the main parking area. The majority of skiers and snowboarders coming to Niseko drive, bus or walk to the main gondola here at Hirafu and ascend the mountain from here. The main attraction of Niseko is it’s amazing powder snow that is blown in from Siberia pretty much daily in winter. Niseko gets massive amounts of the white stuff and its about the best quality on the planet! Skiing in Niseko has a long history, starting over 100 years ago when Austrian Major Theodore von Lerch first brought a pair of skis with him to Kutchan and hiked up the mountain from there. As a resort Niseko Grand Hirafu has a history that spans over 50 years, with many chapters in its history. Apparently the first lifts were not installed for skiing at all, but rather to harvest bamboo from the mountainside for the production of fiberboard in making TV sets. After this business failed they were converted to ski lifts. The mountain is now well served with recently upgraded gondolas that carry 8 people and run at a speed of 6m per second. Opposite the gondola base station is the newly built Grand Hirafu Mountain Center. A ticket office, ski school, information center and a shop are amongst the facilities located on the first floor and there is a 200 seater restaurant and an events space on the second floor. The runs range from beginner to somewhat challenging, with gates to the considerable, challenging off-piste areas. For many these off-piste areas are the main attraction of Niseko, and can be great fun as long as you’re willing to abide by the out-of-bounds policy; you can go outside ski area boundaries at your own risk, but the resorts do not patrol, groom or avalanche bomb outside their borders, and injured skiers are charged for rescue operations. For those that want to challenge these areas it’s best to go with experienced friends or hire one of the many excellent guides available. Snowboarding is allowed on all runs. For on-piste runs the Strawberry Fields area in the Hirafu section is best for intermediate skiers. It has maze like tree skiing and snowboarding though deep powder snow littered with drops, rollovers and natural obstacles. Beginner skiers and snowboarders are well catered for in the lower gentle terrain of the Hirafu area. Once confidence and skills improve catch the gondola to tackle the green trail leading down to the base area. The three ski and snowboard areas each has their own ski school. The Ski and Snowboard Schools offer first time beginner lessons (for all ages), powder lessons and group and private lessons for all abilities. Quick Stats: Mountain Elevation Top 1309m Elevation Bottom 300m Vertical Drop 1,009 metres Skiable Terrain 887ha Longest Run 5.6km (3.5 miles) Beginner 30%% Intermediate 40%% Advanced 30%% Total Number of Trails 61 Lifts Total 38 Highest Lifted Point 1,200 metres ( 3,937 feet) Gondolas & Trams 3 High Speed Sixes High Speed Quads 7 Quad Chairs 0 Triple Chairs 1 Double Chairs 15 Surface Lifts 12 Uphill Capacity  

The Hirafu ski ground has 25 ski runs and ten chair lifts, the highest lift climbs to 1172m and there are two side country gates.

This resort is on the east face of Mt. Annupuri and the largest of all the Niseko United resorts and connected to Hirafu Village which is the largest and busiest in the area. There are a number of restaurants at various points on the mountain as well as some ski in hotels where you can also eat giving you plenty of choice. On a powder day a good ride is the Rinkan or Jumbo ski runs that can be accessed from the top of the King Hooded Triple Lift #3. On groomed day ride a cruise along Holiday is always nice despite the small up hill section. There is a huge amount of accommodation close to the base of the resort but you will pay more for it, things tend to get cheaper the further down hill you go.

Location

204 Yamada Kutchan, Abuta District, Hokkaido Prefecture 044-0081

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