The perfect day skiing can mean many different things to many different people, but here in Japan it means snow. Deep, untracked snow. There is an abundance of places to find this in Niseko, but when the conditions are right, few would argue there are better places than the Peak.
Located at the top of the Hirafu resort, the Peak sits at 1,156 metres above sea level and if you want a shot at it, you’ll have to hike the last part! Before I hear the groans from the no walking brigade, remember this short walk instantly takes 85% of the people in resort out of the equation. Sounding more appealing now?
With so much snow falling throughout the season, it is sometimes hard to come by a beautiful bluebird day after heavy snowfall. The Peak is good after any storm, but there is something a little bit special about riding knee deep powder with the sun shining down. Not to mention the opportunity to get some great photos!
The day starts much like any other; up early and check the forecast. Sun shining? Check. Gates open? Check. It’s time to go! There are many ways to get up to the Peak, all ending with the hike from the top of the famous Pizza-Box Chair. Heading up straight away is popular, but waiting until later in the morning is also fine if you can’t resist a few fresh runs lower down the mountain.
Realistically you can expect the hike to take around 15 minutes, with the midway point providing a great place to take a short break and grab some snaps. Whilst the hike isn’t too long and there is usually a good boot-pack in place, it is important not to underestimate the effort required. Remember: it isn’t a race, so take your time and go at your own pace.
Getting to the top always feels like a great achievement and hopefully awaiting you are some of the best views in resort. On a clear day you can see everything from Kutchan, Mt Yotei through to the sea at Toyako. The best feeling though? You’ve still got the ride down!
That’s right, the real reason we go up is so we can come down again! There are a few different routes to take off the Peak, some that take you straight back down to the resort and others that take you further a field. A firm favourite though is to head over towards the Hanazono resort, which provides a longer run and more than usual, a lot more fresh turns.
All lines lead down to a cat track that winds its way back to Hanazono, meaning the beauty of this run is you can traverse along pretty much as far as you want, drop in and still end up in the right spot. There is something for everyone, from beginners through to seasoned riders: cornice drops, open powder fields to more technical tree runs, so don’t be put off if you aren’t the most confident rider.
Once down it is time for some high-fives and checking of GoPro footage. The short walk out with be filled with talk of untracked turns and powder face shots. The only thing to decide after this is whether to go up again!
For more details on Niseko and the amazing skiing and snowboarding available, contact Japan Ski Experience; your first stop for planning your Japan winter holiday. The staff have all spent numerous years in Japan and the Niseko team find themselves on the Peak more than a few times a season! They can assist with finding you accommodation to suit your needs, telling you why Japan stands out and the best places to head after a big dump!
Check out Japan Ski Experience’s instagram for a taste of what is on offer and see if you can spot any shots from the Peak!