Kiroro Snow World
5 May, 2011
Kiroro snow world is a tucked away mountain valley resort that sits directly in the path of Hokkaido's heaviest snowstorms from the north/west. It collects snow. A short 45 minute drive from Niseko or an 1:15 minute drive from Sapporo lives the modern Japanese resort with a unique Hokkaido feel. This family-friendly resort measures the most snow in Hokkaido which is obvious when your snowboard or skis are close to dragging on the upper lifts in February. Local Japanese day-pass skiers and snowboarders keep it cruisy on the groomers and generally stay out of the out of bounds, leaving a lot of snow untouched longer than it's neighboring resorts. With challenging steep tree runs marked black on the map, a fun terrain park with jumps, boxes and rails, red and green runs that connect it all, Kiroro has terrain for all levels.
For the experienced riders, the upper lifts have some point-it-powder zones to lap on Asari#2 & Nagamine#2 and the terrain under and next to the Kiroro gondola is amazing. Steep multi-faced aspects dotted with birch-trees and wind-blow features funnel down from both Nagamine 1090m and Asari 1180m peaks into mellow groomed runs. For intermediate riders, the powder cruiser runs accessed from the top of Nagamine#1 and #2 are perfect to get comfortable in the deep before getting in to the steeper terrain up top. Keeping your speed is common sense in the flat sections of this fun resort... but that is nothing new. If you get lost in bounds... there is a lot of "exploring" to do in Kiroro. If you end up exploring... there are cornice drops and creek gullies all around the resort.
For the backcountry explorer, Mt. Yoichi-dake towers over the resort at 1488m and accesses the gnarliest terrain in the area. Touring up Yoichi-dake starts from the top of Asari#2 lift and the convenient Asari mountain-view restaurant is the perfect place to snack before burning to earn your turns. Kiroro sells a 3 hour pass, that works well for enjoying a few runs before starting the hike. On another note, the resort offers discounted rates for Niseko season pass holders from late November to the seasons' end in early May.
Kiroro snow world is a full on resort, planned and executed well year round. With the massive Piano hotel (880 guests), Mountain hotel (400 guests), Mountain center rental and ski-schools, Yu-yukan spa, Nature center, Mountain-view restaurant up top, Chalet-mall with cafe and restaurant, Pro-shop at the base, this place has it all for a perfect mountain retreat. Kiroro's modern lift system, gondola, well groomed slopes and bottomless turns are worth a visit.