Rusutsu Ski Resort
I'd love to start this article with the title Hokkaido's best kept secret; unfortunately the word on Rusutsu is out. However the word is that Rusutsu is a fantastic winter playground with some of the greatest tree skiing you can find anywhere and facilities to cater for every niche. If you're just looking for a lift ticket and a bowl of ramen Rusutsu can provide it. At the other end of the sale if your looking for an up market hotel with world class dining, hot springs and a wave pool Rusutsu has it.
During the winter what ever your budget the main draw card to Rusustu is of course the over abundance of fresh powder. Rusutsu has terrain for all levels and is particularly well suited to intermediate level skiers and boarders. If you're confident or seeking to be confident enjoying moderately pitched tree runs, Rusutsu is the place for you. The terrain isn't too demanding but is varied and interesting and most of the trees are well spaced. For those on a more adventurous tip, there are a few nice steeps and plenty of 'mushrooms' to launch off.
The mountain itself is in fact three volcanic looking peaks East Mt, West Mt and Mt Isola, the best skiing and riding is to be found on the East Mt and Mt Isola. On this side however facilities are limited to restaurants and ticketing. The restaurants offer cheap and hearty Japanese Resort fare such as curry and rice, ramen noodles, soba noodles, fried rice and more. The east and west mountains are connected by a gondola, and it is on the West Mt that you will find restaurants, an ATM, hotels and wave pools. There is also a halfpipe and terrain park of sorts on this side.
Every year it is amazing to hear how many people come back from Rusutsu claiming "that was the best day I've ever had!". Rusutu is a must do for any powder hound visiting Hokkaido, it's just 90 minutes from Sapporo and a mere 30-40 minutes from downtown Hirafu (depending on how much it's snowing!).
Senior Writer, New Zealand Snowboard Magazine
Contributing Writer, Australia/New Zealand Snowboard Magazine
Contributing Writer, Manual Magazine