Trip report: Rusutsu Resort, Hokkaido, Japan


Trip report: Rusutsu Resort, Hokkaido, Japan

Started by Surfarthur in Japan - 9 Replies

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Surfarthur posted Apr-2011

Well, I have been putting off writing this trip report for long enough now, figured I really should get around to it! Been back for almost 2 months, so hopefully the memory isn't too rusty.
We travelled from Perth, Australia to Tokyo on the 6th of Feb. Before we went to Hokkaido, which is the northern island of Japan, we had 5 nights in Tokyo. Tokyo is an amazing place, but I know you all want to hear about the snow, so I will fill in the details of Tokyo a little later. From Tokyo, we caught a plane to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido. We then got on a bus and travelled for about 2 hrs to Rusutsu Resort. We spent 7 nights here, and it was 6 days of awesome riding.
What can I say about Rusutsu?
Rusutsu is about half an hour away from Niseko, and gets almost the same amount of snow (12 metres +, Niseko gets 15 metres +) but less crowded.
Rusutsu is split across 3 peaks, West Mt, East Mt, and Mt Isola. Mt Isola is the largest of the 3 mountains. The resort has 600m of vertical, and the highest peak is 994m. This does not present a problem though, as it is common for there to be an accumulation of a metre or more of snow on the beaches in Hokkaido.
West Mt is quite small, only about 300m of vertical, so perfect for some warm up runs. It is ski in/out from the resort hotel.
East Mt has only a couple of cruisers, and is accessed from the main hotel by a gondola. Mt Isola is accessed off the same gondola. Mt Isola has plenty of wide open, fairly mellow groomed runs, but it is in the trees where the action is. Most of Mt Isola is very well gladed, and with the low altitude, it is only the very peak which is bare of trees. This is fantastic when the visibility is bad, as it doesn't take long for the visibilty to improve as you head down from the summit. There are not too many people around, and we were there at one of the busiest times of the season, and you could clearly see fresh tracks through the trees from most of the chairlifts on Isola well after lunchtime.
In general, the terrain is a bit mellow, with a few quite nasty flat spots that really burn those quads. If you don't want to head into the trees, and are more than an intermediate skier or boarder, then Rusutsu probably won't keep you entertained for long. But if you are keen to ride through the trees, then you will be finding different lines for weeks. Please note, however, that riding off piste is prohibited in most ski resorts in Japan, and Rusutsu is no exception. The ski patrol turns a blind eye to people riding off piste, but if you are concerned about the possibility of your insurance not paying out should you have an accident in the trees, you might want to consider Niseko, where they allow off piste riding if you access the terrain through the gates.The lift infrastructure is really top notch at Rusutsu, with 4 gondolas and 7 fast quads with hoods spread across the 3 mountains. This results in very fast uploading. The whole time we were there, we never rode in a full gondola, and we only rode on a full 4 seat chair once. we once waited 5 minutes for a gondola across to East Mt from the hotel, and 2 minutes for a chair when there was a school group in front of us. In general, we found the resort to be very quiet, with only a few westerners around. We often had entire pistes to the 2 of us, and you really dont have to go far into the trees to find fresh lines on a powder day.
We didn't have huge amounts of snow while we were there. We had beautiful light dry powder for the first 2 days, about 10 to 15 cm each day, then we had three fine days in a row. Our last day we had about 20 cm of fresh, but the temperature had risen, so it was a little heavy and wet at the bottom of the mountain, but still light and dry at the top. The morning we had to get back on the bus, there was about 20 cm, maybe more of fresh, light dry powder. Getting on that bus was the hardest thing we had to do the whole trip.
Pics to follow, once I work out how to upload them

reply to 'Trip report: Rusutsu Resort, Hokkaido, Japan'
posted Apr-2011

West Mt from the East Mt gondola

Top of Isola on a sunny day

Top of the heavenly view run

Edited 1 time. Last update at 18-Jan-2021

reply to 'Trip report: Rusutsu Resort, Hokkaido, Japan'
posted Apr-2011

Fresh snow on Mt Isola
Part of the north wing hotel

Powder snow at the rest area on the way to the resort

reply to 'Trip report: Rusutsu Resort, Hokkaido, Japan'
posted Apr-2011

Very interesting. Gets good reviews on Tripadvisor as well. I would love to visit Japan.

www  Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

reply to 'Trip report: Rusutsu Resort, Hokkaido, Japan'
posted Apr-2011

We had so much fun, we are going again in January. We will be spending 5 nights at a ski resort called Furano, and then we will have 7 nights at Rusutsu again.

reply to 'Trip report: Rusutsu Resort, Hokkaido, Japan'
posted Apr-2011

Japan is a place I would like to visit to see the different equipment. There seem to be a lot of Japanese/ Korean manufacturers of skis and snowboards, but none of the gear makes it way to Europe, or the US.

Oh , and the night skiing is sure to be good, now that the snow glows in the dark.
because I'm so inclined .....
Edited 1 time. Last update at 13-Apr-2011

reply to 'Trip report: Rusutsu Resort, Hokkaido, Japan'
posted Apr-2011

Trencher wrote:Oh , and the night skiing is sure to be good, now that the snow glows in the dark.

Well, before the earthquake and nuclear disaster, we had considered going back to Tokyo, and taking the bullet train to some of the resorts on Honshu, but we decided that it might be for the best to avoid that area of Japan, at least until the nuclear situation is sorted out. Hokkaido being a separate island, I feel that even if the situation at Fukushima deteriorates, then we will still be safe. We are also travelling through Hong Kong for our next trip, but that is more because the only airline that was providing a Perth to Tokyo service has cancelled that route. We had already decided after that airline gave us very poor service, that we would look to fly with someone else, so they forced us to look to their competitors.

reply to 'Trip report: Rusutsu Resort, Hokkaido, Japan'
posted Apr-2011

I'm tempted by a ski holiday in Korea. Does anyone know what it is like out there ?

Topic last updated on 13-April-2011 at 17:51

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