The Hakuba Valley resorts consist of nine ski areas in the Nagano Prefecture at the base of the Japanese Alps. Riders are able to access peaks up to 3000 meters with steeps comparable to Jackson Hole or Chamonix. The nine resorts average ten to fourteen meters of snow per year. The cold air sweeps down from the Siberian plains and picks up moisture as it travels across the Sea of Japan, then slams into the high peaks of the Hakuba Valley and snows for days at a time. You probably will have the deepest days of your life here and the maritime snow pack is relatively stable compared to Colorado or Europe. Now the Epic Pass from North America and Australia works for five consecutive days in the HakubaValley. There is terrain for every level rider, from super steep spines, moguls, 30 degree slopes, 8 km long cruisers, to wide open beginner areas. This is the place to make memories for a lifetime.
Happo One Snow Resort - This resort has a little something for everyone from beginner to expert. The home of the Freeride World Tour, there are endless backcountry options, although visibility has to be good to enjoy as there are not many trees where you hike out. Plenty of beginner areas at the bottom and the intermediate runs are well groomed and fast. Many of the events from the 1998 Nagano Olympics were held at Happo One, so many of the runs are world class.
Goryu / Hakuba 47
Goryu Snow Resort and Hakuba 47 Winter Sports Park - These two resorts share one mountain and what a winning combination it is. The skiing is great here. Poke around and you will be sure to find some stashes. The tree skiing here is excellent so on those storm days it helps with visibility. At the base areas of Escal Plaza and Iimori there are wonderful wide open beginner areas. Hakuba 47 has the best park in the valley for all you adrenaline junkies.
Cortina Snow Resort - With one of the highest elevations in the Hakuba valley they tend to get more snow and it stays drier and lighter. There is a huge beginner area at the base, but the rest of the mountain is steep and best for advanced riders. There is great backcountry area right off the top lift but the fall line is short and it takes about 40mins to do a lap. Be sure to get here early on a pow day as the locals line up as early as 7:30am. Cortina has some of the best tree skiing in the Hakuba Valley.
Tsugaike Kogen Snow Resort - This place is amazing with endless tree runs and many nice places to have lunch. Tsugaike has some of the best backcountry options. There is a wonderful large beginner area at the bottom where it is so wide, you feel like you have the place to yourself. Be sure to check this place out.
Iwatake Snow Field- This resort is an intermediates dream, with fun runs on the entire mountain. There are not any backcountry options. For park riders there is a well maintained pipe at the top of the mountain.
Kashimayari - This place is a combination of three resorts overlooking the beautiful Lake Aokiko. There are many long intermediate runs, and some great backcountry runs off the top Kashimayri lift.
Jiigatake Snow Resort - This resort is the farthest flung of the Hakuba Valley Resorts. A little past Kashimayari, the crowds are minimal any day of the week making it a wonderful place to learn. It is a small resort with terrain for every level of rider. You can explore the entire resort in a day.
Norikura Onsen Snow Resort - This place is a connected to Cortina and is a wonderful place for families. There is a large beginner area at the bottom and some nice steep runs above to challenge advanced riders. Backcountry riders will swing through this resort when making laps off Cortina's backside. Combined with Cortina, these two resorts are fun for riders who like to keep it on piste with something for everyone.