Shimamaki Snowcat

Overall Rating

Shimamaki Snowcat

Shimamaki Snowcat4.4/511
Shimamaki Snowcat4.4 out of 5 based on 11 reviews

Shimamaki Snowcat

Overall Rating

Shimamaki Snowcat4.4/511
Shimamaki Snowcat4.4 out of 5 based on 11 reviews

Hokkaido Backcountry Club - Shimamaki Snowcat

Shimamaki Snowcat Skiing is operated by Hokkaido Backcountry Club based in Niseko Japan, and the multi-day cat skiing tours in Shimamaki depart from Niseko. Unlike many other Japan cat skiing operations, Shimamaki Snowcat Skiing occurs in the backcountry, not at a former ski resort.

The Hokkaido Backcountry Club is Japan's first modern, helicopter, snowcat, and snowmobile adventure company that offers backcountry tours under the supervision of professionally-certified mountain guides (ACMG, IFMGA, AMGA). With the combination of highly qualified and experienced guides, thorough safety protocols, and impressive terrain, Hokkaido Backcountry Club offers Canadian-style heli skiing and cat skiing - something very unique for Japan.

Where is the Hokkaido Backcountry Club Cat Skiing?

The rural ocean-side town of Shimamaki is located on the southwest coast of Hokkaido Japan. Shimamaki is 164km southwest of Sapporo and 96km southwest of Hirafu Niseko. The drive from Niseko to Shimamaki along the wild coastline is rather spectacular, with many snow covered beaches and rocks.

The HBC cat skiing occurs in a remote area on the flanks of Mt Kariba. The snowcat staging area is about a 15 minute drive inland from the pension/lodge.

Transport between your Niseko accommodation, the snowcat staging area, and the lodging is included in the package.

Shimamaki Cat Skiing Terrain

The terrain is a far cry from the mellow piste runs found with other Japanese cat skiing! This is the real deal with plenty of terrain variety including open alpine bowls, steep ridges, naturally gladed birch forests, and rolling meadows. And you only have to share all this tasty powder-ridden terrain with 11 other guests and your two guides.

Run elevations are up to 1,520 metres on Mt Kariba, and depending on conditions, each run averages about 400 vertical metres. If your group is of average speed, expect about 6 runs on the first day and about 10 runs on the second day.

You can check out our Hokkaido Backcountry Club cat skiing review for more information.

Age & Ability

Guests must be 13 years of age or older (and accompanied by an adult if under 18). You should be an advanced off-piste skier or snowboarder as a minimum, and have a good level of fitness (particularly if you're a snowboarder).

HBC Terms & Conditions

HBC requires all fees at the time of booking for all trips if booking within 60 days of the trip. If booking in advance of 60 days we will take a 25% deposit. We will require the full amount if you are getting an early bird discount.

Full payment for Shimamaki Snowcats is due by October 15th.

HBC does not offer refunds on snowcat tours for weather related problems (extreme avalanche condition, torrential rain etc)

If HBC is asked to find a replacement for the cancelling guest, payments will be refunded once the seat is filled with another guest less an administration fee of 25,000yen You may sell your seat to another guest, but in order for HBC not to charge you the 25,000yen administration fee, you must collect the money directly from the replacement guest. HBC will not be involved in the transaction.

For non-mechanized tours, cancellation between 60 and 30 days before the trip will result in a 50% cancellation fee. Cancellation within 30 days of the trip for any reason, including injury, will result in a 100% cancellation fee.

Heli bookings cancelled on our part for reasons of weather or safety qualify for a backup lift assisted tour at Rusutsu for 35,000yen. The remainder will be refunded. If you decide not to join this program, you will be refunded 20% of the total.

Runs not skied in our helicopter program qualify for a refund of 13,000 yen per run for 6-run guests and 8,580yen/ min for private charter guests.

Additional heli runs will be billed at 16,000 yen per run for 6-run guests and 8,580yen/ min for private charter guests.

Heli guests not flying or delayed due to weather will be offered a backcountry / resort / or slackcountry tour with the prospect of flying if the weather changes. Guests can also re-book for the following days if there is availability.

Minimum group numbers apply for all tours. In the case of low numbers, we will attempt to reschedule.

Included in all ski packages is the use of backpack, avalanche transceiver, probe, and shovel, as well as avalanche and helicopter safety briefings.

A set menu lunch and apres ski appetizers are included in all heli programs.

We recommend you purchase your own trip cancellation insurance in case you need to cancel for injury or any other unforseen circumstances.

PAYMENTS

You will receive an invoice email with payment instructions via international bank transfer or PayPal credit card. You do not need a PayPal membership to use this credit card service.

Due to service fees, our preferred method for larger transactions is international bank transfer. All bank transfer details are available on your electronic invoice.

If you choose to complete a bank transfer, please ignore any service charge listed on your invoice and only transfer the amount owing on the balance line of your invoice.

All customers are required to read a release of liability waiver and medical information form before departing. Failure to do so will result in cancellation of the tour without refund.

All participants under the age of 19 must also have a parent or legal guardian sign their release of liability. All minors must be at least 13 years of age and accompanied by a guardian or parent while on the tour.

All tour pricing listed on this website is based on a minimum group size of 3 people, unless otherwise stated. If your group is smaller or larger than 3, please ask about availability.

HBC reserves the right to cancel any tour at any time, typically due to inclement weather or unsafe backcountry travel conditions.

We ask members to be honest about their skill levels. If you have booked and paid for a trip with HBC, but your skills are insufficient for the trip you have booked, we will try to accommodate you with another program if possible but we will not issue refunds.

Shimamaki Snowcat Skiing Review 2016

Hanging out in Niseko was fun, but it was so nice to get away from the hubbub with a 2 day adventure to a remote and unique part of Hokkaido. And all that deep powder out Shimamaki cat skiing was a whole different level of fun – our experience was truly amazing and afterwards we were on an amazing powder high (luckily we could feed our powder addiction by reviewing the HBC heli skiing the next day!). If you’re addicted to snorting white powder (the healthy type!), you’ll be in Niseko, and you’ve saved up some yen, then cat skiing with Hokkaido Backcountry Club is a must-do experience.

Despite us having a superb time, it’s our job to review and find any minor little inadequacies in an operation, because no cat skiing company is absolutely perfect for everyone. Our review covers different aspects of the HBC operation and hopefully you can determine if HBC is likely to align with your priorities. As a guide to the ratings below, a 5/5 equates to absolutely outstanding, 4/5 is excellent, whilst 3/5 is still a very good score. You can check out our cat ski ratings to see how Hokkaido Backcountry Club fares against other mechanized backcountry operations.


Snowcat skiing..

..with powder up to your eyeballs...
Portillo
..superb terrain options.

Pros

  • This style of (real) cat skiing is very unique for Japan whereby there is “real” backcountry terrain, not low angle old piste runs at an abandoned has-been ski resort.
  • Whilst the cat skiing is awesome, it’s the addition of the cultural experience of staying in a traditional Japanese pension in an ocean-side location that makes it really special. The drive to Shimamaki along the snow-covered coastline is also rather extraordinary.
  • Trips depart from Niseko, so it’s easy to combine resort skiing/snowboarding with snowcat skiing, and the two experiences provide a complete contrast to each other.
  • The guides are highly experienced and qualified, and the safety protocols are excellent.
  • The Shimamaki region gets absolutely dumped on with snow. Particularly on our first day, the powder was very deep, and we scored face shot after face shot.
Cons
  • Currently the cat skiing terrain isn’t particularly big. Thankfully considering the big snowfalls, the terrain resets frequently so tracked out slopes is not usually a problem. It’s likely that next season, HBC will get a permit to extend the tenure which will increase terrain choice significantly.

Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective

  • If you love super long runs, you might feel the runs are a little short. The runs are somewhat typical of many USA cat skiing operations, but much shorter than what you’d find with the high profile Canadian cat skiing outfits.
  • A day of cat skiing doesn’t involve a lot of vertical, especially when compared to BC cat skiing, in part due to the travel times required to get up to the first run. Whilst powder hungry experts might be left craving more powder, most will probably be more than satiated by the amount of vertical (or more likely exhausted, fatigued, shattered….!). Once again, the addition of new terrain is likely to change this somewhat.
Powder Snow
Mt Kariba definitely gets coastal snow – you can see the sea from some of the slopes – so the snow was a fraction heavier than what you’d generally get in Central Hokkaido. Of course the upside of the proximity to the sea, is the high snow volumes. HBC haven’t been operating enough seasons to have stats on the average seasonal snowfall, but suffice to say, it snows crap-loads on Mt Kariba. Coastal Hokkaido ski resorts such as Sapporo Kokusai are thought to get about 18-20 metres of snow, which might provide a little bit of an indication of potential snow volumes at Shimamaki. We got to experience the renowned big snowfalls of the region. On our first day, it was unrelentingly puking!

Back onto quality - the snow was a fraction wind affected on the open slopes when we visited. We skied mostly south-facing slopes but they weren’t affected by the sun, probably because there is very little sun during winter, but this could impact snow quality on a rare fine day or during spring. The new terrain that will hopefully open for 2016-17 consists of mostly north-facing lines, which should be absolutely epic!

Overall Terrain
Due to some frustrating Japanese-esque red tape, HBC have not yet been given permission to utilise the full potential of the terrain. When the tenure permissions are extended, the terrain will be absolutely amazing, and the ratings for terrain would definitely increase.

Currently HBC has enough terrain for about 4 days of riding without having to cross old tracks, but thankfully there are pretty regular powder resets. There was no need to “farm” the snow with tight little powder squiggles and we were given full opportunity to spread out on the slope so that everyone got freshies.

On the first day due to the major snow dumpage, the snowcat drop offs were not very high and the average vertical per run was only about 250 metres. We did about 2,000 metres of vertical for the day (6,561 feet). The 2nd day when things fined up a little bit, the runs were longer (375m vertical on average, up to 550m). The highest drop-off was at 1,100 metres; 420 metres short of the elevation of Mt Kariba. Day 2 provided a total of about 3,000 metres (9,800 feet) of vertical. This was probably enough skiing to feed our powder addiction, but this may not be enough for some fit and hungry powder hunters. With respect to comparisons, USA cat skiing operations provide an average of 11,800 feet per day and Canadian cat skiing operations provide 14,600 feet per day, whilst the cat skiing at Weiss (another Hokkaido cat skiing outfit) only offers about 2,500 metres (8,200 feet).

Factors in not getting more vertical included the time required to get up to the 1st run (15 mins from pension to staging area, then 40 minutes to day campground area, and another 20 minutes to the top of the first run), we returned to the campground for lunch (rather than having it in the snowcat on the way to a run), there was very deep snow which would have slowed down the snowcat a little, and we had a slow-ish group who were getting bogged a lot in the super deep powder. Of course if you want to charge at it and score max vertical, you can get together your own group and charter the whole snowcat. (NB The format of the travel day has changed since reviewing the operation).

Alpine Terrain
Much of the current terrain consists of wide open sub-alpine terrain which offers plenty of fun. The slopes we skied weren’t super steep with a maximum gradient of 36 degrees, but pitchy enough to get up speed even in the deep powder.

Tree Skiing
Most of the tree skiing we did was where the slopes started to mellow out a little, and most of the trees were rather widely spaced so there was plenty of room to let it rip. A higher rating would be provided if there were more steeps and some tighter trees to provide greater challenges. When permission is granted, it’s likely that the new north facing terrain will be able to provide this in spades.


Strong Intermediate Terrain


Whilst the Hokkaido Backcountry Club cat skiing terrain is not as mellow as other Japan cat skiing, it’s still reasonably well suited to strong intermediate riders, particularly skiers. Currently the steeper pitches are mostly up in the sub-alpine area where there is space galore to manoeuver (or wipe-out!), and the trees are reasonably mellow and well spaced. However snowboarders will need to have the skills to keep up plenty of speed on the flatter sections near the bottom of runs (whilst concurrently avoiding the trees) considering the likely depth of the powder.

When new terrain is added, it may become a little less ideal for intermediate powder riders.

Advanced Terrain
The terrain is ideal for advanced riders. OK that’s a bit of an understatement because in combination with the bottomless powder, it was incredible fun! With the addition of more terrain variety and more vertical, it would score full marks.

Expert & Extreme Terrain
The current terrain doesn’t provide an abundance of challenge with respect to steeps or tight trees, but that’s not to say that experts won’t have copious fun, especially considering the high likelihood of face shot heaven. We saw a few cornices and pillows to leap off. There may have been more, but it wasn’t something our group (so therefore the lead guide) was really seeking out. It could also be assumed that some of the really interesting terrain features were buried way down deep under the snowpack.

Guiding
As with the HBC heli skiing, the guiding was excellent. The guides were highly qualified and had extensive experience with mechanized backcountry outfits in North America (Canada and Alaska) and South America. We felt in incredibly safe hands. The communication with guests was simple yet very effective, and the interaction and cohesion between the lead and tail guides was very good. The tail guide also ensured that the order of riders was equitable, not that there was really any difficulty in getting freshies when you went last.

English was the first language of all the guides, so unlike some other Japanese cat skiing outfits, you’re not left wondering whether the guide said “wait a tick”, “let it rip” or “cliff”.

Cat
The snowcat and the efficiency of the snowcat roads is also something that is likely to evolve as the company becomes more established. The snowcat was fine, but in comparison to some other snowcat cabins in North America the minor limitations included: side entrance so a little more difficult to get in and out; half the seating was facing backwards so you tended to slip off the seats when going uphill (there was a metal bar in the middle to help but it was slippery with ski boots); no storage so any clothing or drink bottles were just left somewhere on the floor; no ability to open windows (handy to minimise any cat sickness); and no insulation so it limited the conversation a bit. The heater was good and particularly handy for those who’d killed their goggles from all the head plants.

Avalanche Mitigation Strategies
HBC is a member of the Helicat association of Canada and they use the same safety protocols as their BC counterparts. Their attention to safety aspects was really evident during the day, including various methods of snow stability testing. In addition to beacons, HBC provide all guests with a backpack with shovel and probe, unlike some outfits where there might only be one “guest pack”.

As part of some of the strange local regulations placed upon the operator, there is even a Japanese man whose job it is to sit in a warming hut at the campground all day watching the weather (amusing!!).

Safety Briefing
Safety as a priority was also apparent with the comprehensive safety briefing that took 45 minutes. The tutorial included opportunity for guests to practise beacon searches and use their probe and shovel. If the snowcat had better insulation, the guide could have conducted some of the briefing in the snowcat on the way up, which may have resulted in more time for powder!

Frills
This wasn’t luxurious cat skiing, not that anyone cared considering there was awesome powder to be snorted.

On both days we returned down to the campground for lunch, which was a bit cold standing around and it cut into precious powder time, but the upside was that there were porta-loos there no need to visit the “powder room” out in the field. Lunch was nothing particularly fancy but more than adequate: sandwiches; sweet muffins; fresh vegetables; instant powdered soup; instant coffee; trail mix; rock-hard muesli bars; and chocolates. No water or snacks were passed around at other times of the day, but a celebratory beer was provided at the end of the day.

Another included frill was the Niseko accommodation transfers, and the dramatic surf ‘n’ snow landscape along the coastline was not a frill you usually get with cat skiing! Frills not included (that are with some outfits): use of powder skis or snowboards; and photography or video service.

Value for Money
It’s hard to compare value for money on a global scale because firstly it depends on the currency exchange at the time, and because this cat skiing experience is completely inimitable (and it also includes ground transportation).

Nevertheless if we were to try…. the cost of Canadian cat skiing with lodging varies significantly, and HBC cat skiing would sit about middle of the road (with currency at the time of writing), although the amount of vertical is generally less with HBC. HBC costs more than other Japan cat skiing, but then it provides much greater value with respect to the quality of the skiing (not necessarily the quantity).

All in all, it’s hard to put a price on powder happiness – just spend the money!

Accommodation
The accommodation itself was rather simple and the bathrooms shared, but it was delightfully traditional and unique, particularly for those who hadn’t travelled much around rural Japan. We really enjoyed staying there, but if you like luxurious lodgings then you’d better just stay in Niseko (and miss out on all the cat skiing freshies)!

We loved the onsen, with its views of the ocean (if you popped your head up a little bit) and it was definitely unique to have the combined aromas of sulphur and the sea. Dinner was amazing (although I’m never that great at sitting on the floor) and the little courses and dishes just kept coming, many of them with seafood. We washed down the yummy cuisine with beers and sake that we’d bought at the Seicomart. Thankfully breakfast was much more western (and we sat up at tables).



The terrain..

..plenty of powder...
Portillo
..widely spaced trees.

Notes Regarding Review

The review is largely based on our experience, but also on discussions with staff, former guests, and information available on their website. Our review has some limitations as it’s not possible to ski every run and in all possible snow and weather conditions. Every guide is somewhat different and we acknowledge that everyone’s experience will be slightly different. The ratings are from our perspective only. The photos and video (coming soon) have not been filmed using professional riders; they aim to show an example of the sort of experience that average people like us would get.

Further Information & Bookings

Click here to reserve the trip of your life!

Technical Issues hampered my experience

Nade
05/03/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Country
    Australia
  • Admin Rating
    3

Technical Issues hampered my experience

Nade
05/03/2019
Great snow and good terrain but I and other guests experienced a cat breakdown which we were warned the previous night could be an issue. Despite a third ‘stand by’ cat; we had to hike back out. This halved our day and amount of vertical to only 3hrs/1850m. On a 2 day trip this is costly. As a group we were told it was one of those things.... and were expected to suck it up. I later learned from the 4 day group I skied with that another breakdown occurred. I had a better time with Rising sun even though their cats are older.

Excellent experience !!

anjarivo
01/02/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Advanced
  • Country
    France
  • Admin Rating
    2

Excellent experience !!

anjarivo
01/02/2019
One of the best Cat Skiing in Hokkaido !
Even if it's short and not steep, there're a lot of playgrounds.
Despite having 2 groups skiing on the same time, we almost got always fresh tracks !!!
Food is delicious and the lodge is fantastic !
The Cat skiing engine is good.
Must be experimented :) !!!

Japow

Brian
18/01/2019
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Country
    US
  • Admin Rating
    1

Japow

Brian
18/01/2019
Priceless accommodations, great terrain, deep light powder, unreal food and safe yet fun guides. Peter and Kyle kept our group together and we had unreal powder experience. Thanks crew! Brian from Idaho

It doesn't stop snowing!

Will
15/02/2018
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Mixed Group
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Advanced
  • Country
    Canada
  • Admin Rating
    3

It doesn't stop snowing!

Will
15/02/2018
We booked a 2 day cat trip through Hokkaido Backcountry club and were not disappointed. Everything from the shuttle service to and from our accommodations in Niseko to the traditional Japanese accommodations and meals that were served to us.

The guided cat trip was epic. The snow was non stop and everything Japan is known for. Terrain was varying from some mellow tree skiing to some steep and deep bowls.

We can't wait to return to Japan and will certainly be booking a cat tour with Shimamaki again.

Shimamaki cat skiing

Jan welkerling
12/04/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Rider Ability
    Advanced
  • Country
    Canada
  • Admin Rating
    2

Shimamaki cat skiing

Jan welkerling
12/04/2016
I went cat skiing at shimamaki with HBC and it was a blast, the snow was deep the guides where friendly and made us feel safe all day. The lodging was very traditional and comfortable, the food was amazing and the hot spring at the end of the day was perfect. We will be back next year for sure.

Face Shots Galore

06/04/2016

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  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Country
    Australia
  • Admin Rating
    4

Face Shots Galore

06/04/2016
Face shots galore
The snowcat
The coastline
Hanging out in Niseko was fun, but it was so nice to get away from the hubbub with a 2 day adventure to a remote and unique part of Hokkaido. And all that deep powder out cat skiing was a whole different level of fun – our experience was truly amazing! After the cat skiing we were on an amazing powder high. If you’re addicted to snorting white powder (the healthy type!) and you’ll be in Niseko, and you’ve saved up some yen, then cat skiing with Hokkaido Backcountry Club is a must-do experience.

See our comprehensive HBC cat skiing review for more information. Keep in mind with our ratings that we are comparing the operation on a global scale, and 5/5 equates to absolutely outstanding.

Epic powder adventure

Dan
26/03/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Age
    36-50
  • Rider Ability
    Strong Intermediate
  • Country
    Australia
  • Admin Rating
    4

Epic powder adventure

Dan
26/03/2016
Door to door service with a smile :)

Well I was lucky enough to book for the 2 day cat trip and found one of the most amazing trips I could ever of hoped for. The powder was deep, the terrain was awesome and the staff were helpful, knowledgable and clear and concise with the safety precautions.
The team at HBC will do all they can to help you get the most out of your day. They push to get as many runs in as possible and mix up the runs as best they can, with the terrain on offer to them at the moment. They are looking to try and expand the area. So I'm sure that this team will only get better with what they do and offer.

The accomadation is very traditional and quiet. I really liked it! The onsen is looking out over the Sea. and the food was very good with fresh fish and a varied array of dishes. It actually makes a nice change from the more western type experience that you now get in Niseko.

I would highly recommend this trip to anyone looking to take their boarding or skiing to the next level. The only problem will be, is that you'll only want to ride amazing backcountry powder after!

You might well see me there again next season too!

Great new operation

Peter
19/03/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Skier
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Country
    USA
  • Admin Rating
    4

Great new operation

Peter
19/03/2016
This new operation leaves all other cat operations in Japan in the dust. While most are operated on resorts which closed because their terrain could not satisfy skier's needs (making them poor locations for cat skiing), this area is a Canadian style tenure of raw mountains, forests and pow. The government has been slow to grant the operators permissions to access the terrain, but they're slowly budging at the behest of the local community and the future seems bright. Really enjoyed carving out my own piece of Hokkaido powder on my two day visit last February. I recommend you do the same! (don't try to go for just a day, it's too much driving).

Awesome Backcountry Pow!

Keith Bernstein
12/03/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Age
    51-65
  • Rider Ability
    Advanced
  • Country
    USA
  • Admin Rating
    4

Awesome Backcountry Pow!

Keith Bernstein
12/03/2016
Did two days with Hokkaido Backcountry Club (HBC). It was awesome! The powder was great and we squeezed in almost 10 runs per day.
It was definitely the highlight of our 10 day trip to Hokkaido.
My nephew and I joined other groups of 2 & 3 to make up a group of 12 that rode/skied together for the two days. We all got along great.
We spent the night at a quaint, authentic, Japanese hotel with both natural indoor and outdoor "onsens". They were great (but *hot*!).
The hotel isn't very high end, but I don't think there *are* any high end hotels in Shimimaka :-)

We rode open areas at the top, great tree runs throughout, and had constant powder. There were some "steeps" too, which where a blast.
The second day the snow had completely "reset" from the day before, so we had another day of virgin powder.

Trevor, our lead guide was awesome, did a great job of safety education, terrain description, keeping away from flats, breaking trail, and taking us through great terrain. Super nice guy too.
Valerie was a great tail-guide and driver.

Shin, the Operations Manager who I dealt with for reservations, payment, and questions was super responsive and helpful.

There's no question I'll be doing this again on my next trip to Hokkaido, and next year they hope to have permission to sno-cat on a lot more terrain, so it should be even more epic!

Best Cat Ever

Andrew Snelleksz
08/03/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Rider Ability
    Advanced
  • Country
    Australia
  • Admin Rating
    4

Best Cat Ever

Andrew Snelleksz
08/03/2016
This was the best Cat trip I've ever been on. O.K, it's the only Cat trip I've ever been on, but now I'm hooked.

Our group of three got picked up at 7 AM. The trip out took around two hours. Our driver Valerie was very hospitable and was willing to stop for food, coffee and photos opportunities whenever we asked. The drive took us along with the Japanese coastline and the scenery of the snow on the beaches was spectacular.

Hokkaido backcountry club (HBC) are very professional company and safety was always a priority. On arrival to the Cat area all guests received backpacks with probs shovels and a transceiver. The HBC team then took us through our av training. Once everybody was up to speed with safety we were loaded up and on our way up the hill.

The Terrain varied from fun open playgrounds to well spaced tree runs. But it didn't matter where you were it was all covered in beautiful Japanese powder. The Group took turns of going first on each run. Everybody got at least one or two goes of going first each day. Not that it mattered because there was enough terrain for fresh tracks for everybody on all the runs.

Our lead guide Trev was informative, helpful and experienced. He was very keen and we even did a run that hadn't been done before.
It ended up being the run of the day for me.

Our tail guide Valerie who also swapped between Cat Driver and Van driver (very flexible) was a lot of fun and super friendly while still maintaining a professional approach to her job.

The Snow was the winner on the day. Boot to knee deep powder, not super dry but definitely not wet and very forgiving if you come unstuck. But the best bit was its abundance. No runs skimped on the JPow.

The accomodation for the one night between cat days was on the ocean and went above expectations especially with the food they served. Dinner was a delicious assortment of seafoods with lots of other extras. Breakfast was a mix of western (eggs and bacon) and Japanese and was quite substantial. Rooms were traditional japenese tatami floors with futon beds. The hotels outdoor Onsen has an amazing ocean view but is a little small (max 4 people). There is a more room in the indoor pool.

Overall I highly recommend this Cat trip. We did two days but obviously you can do one or more. Along with the Heli we did the following day this trip was reasonably priced. And anyone that gives you end of day beers in the Cat is worth recommending.

As chance would have it we did this trip with Powderhound team Greg and Lyndell. It was great to shred with you guys. Catch you for a beer some time.

Andy

HBC BACKCOUNTRY CLUB

Daryl Hoffman
29/02/2016
  • Recommend
  • Would Revisit
  • Rider Type
    Snowboarder
  • Rider Age
    18-35
  • Rider Ability
    Expert
  • Country
    USA
  • Admin Rating
    4

HBC BACKCOUNTRY CLUB

Daryl Hoffman
29/02/2016
Ok so I'll start with the riding portion then I'll fill in the logistics. This is an overall new operation so they have exponential potential to grow when they sort out the permits with the forestry service. The guides are some of the most experienced I've been around. The zone to ski was pretty good, not difficult for an expert but still fun and good terrain for a large group of all skill types. The snow was straight perfect "ja-pow" and wind exposure was minimal. There's a nice variety of runs, The tree runs being the best , were super fun with nice spacing and the open faces were fast with a nice flow.

Overall it's a great intro to some nice clean backcountry and you'd be hard pressed to not get at least one poster shot on the trip. Like I said, there's quite a bit of meat on the bone for the operation to expand their zone to the really fun stuff which is something to look forward to. At the end of of the day, everyone was all smiles and The beers in the cat ride back was a nice touch.

Logistically if your driving yourself to Shimimake and don't know a lick of Japanese or have a hotel reservation with an exact gps address, your gonna be in for a rough day. Basically don't do what I did. Set up a reservation for accommodations and you'll be sorted. The food was unexpectedly good having been given a full crab to chow on was cool.

If you want to get gnarly then think about a guided sled tour or heli trip, otherwise enjoy a fun cruisy day with some buds.

Cheers to the staff at HBC they got a good crew and look forward in where they are taking the Shimimake zone in the future.
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Shimamaki Snowcat Packages DETAILS
Price p/p Display price is based on 2 days + 2 nights per person for 2021 season (regular season)
Base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen
*Display price may vary slightly due to exchange rate fluctuations
USD 1,685

GUIDED CAT SKIING ADVENTURE (2, 3 or 4 days)
Stay in Traditional Japanese Inn Inc All Meals

Location: Japan | Tour Focus: Guided | Terrain Focus: Backcountry
Ability: Advanced to Expert
Price p/p Display price is based on 2 days + 2 nights per person for 2021 season (regular season)
Base/invoice currency is Japanese Yen
*Display price may vary slightly due to exchange rate fluctuations
USD 1,685
This is the best Japan cat skiing! Departing from Niseko, the trip offers incredible snowcat accessed powder skiing & boarding, staying in a traditional coastal Japanese inn. Ride deep untracked powder all day, feast on Japanese cuisine and soak in the hotel's onsen in the evening. More
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Fixed Date(s): Jan 05 - Jan 08, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 2,438
Availability: Enquire
Fixed Date(s): Jan 08 - Jan 10, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,685
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Fixed Date(s): Jan 10 - Jan 12, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,685
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Fixed Date(s): Jan 11 - Jan 13, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,685
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Fixed Date(s): Jan 12 - Jan 15, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 2,438
Availability: Available
Fixed Date(s): Jan 13 - Jan 16, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 2,438
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Fixed Date(s): Jan 15 - Jan 19, 2021
Days: 5
Price: USD 3,202
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Fixed Date(s): Jan 16 - Jan 18, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,685
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Fixed Date(s): Jan 18 - Jan 20, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,685
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Fixed Date(s): Jan 19 - Jan 22, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 2,438
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Fixed Date(s): Jan 20 - Jan 23, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 2,438
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Fixed Date(s): Jan 22 - Jan 26, 2021
Days: 5
Price: USD 3,202
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Fixed Date(s): Jan 23 - Jan 25, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,685
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Fixed Date(s): Jan 25 - Jan 27, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,685
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Fixed Date(s): Jan 29 - Feb 02, 2021
Days: 5
Price: USD 3,202
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Fixed Date(s): Jan 30 - Feb 01, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,685
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 01 - Feb 03, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,685
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 02 - Feb 05, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 2,438
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 03 - Feb 06, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 2,438
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 05 - Feb 09, 2021
Days: 5
Price: USD 3,202
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 06 - Feb 08, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,685
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 08 - Feb 10, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,685
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 09 - Feb 12, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 2,438
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 10 - Feb 13, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 2,438
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 12 - Feb 16, 2021
Days: 5
Price: USD 3,202
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 13 - Feb 15, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,685
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 15 - Feb 17, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,685
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 16 - Feb 19, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 2,438
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 17 - Feb 20, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 2,438
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 19 - Feb 23, 2021
Days: 5
Price: USD 3,202
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 20 - Feb 22, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,685
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 23 - Feb 26, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 2,438
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 24 - Feb 27, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 2,438
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 26 - Mar 02, 2021
Days: 5
Price: USD 3,202
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Fixed Date(s): Feb 27 - Mar 01, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,685
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Fixed Date(s): Mar 01 - Mar 03, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,432
Availability: Available
Fixed Date(s): Mar 02 - Mar 05, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 2,073
Availability: Enquire
Fixed Date(s): Mar 03 - Mar 06, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 2,073
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Fixed Date(s): Mar 05 - Mar 09, 2021
Days: 5
Price: USD 2,721
Availability: Available
Fixed Date(s): Mar 06 - Mar 08, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,685
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Fixed Date(s): Mar 08 - Mar 10, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,179
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Fixed Date(s): Mar 09 - Mar 12, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 1,707
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Fixed Date(s): Mar 10 - Mar 13, 2021
Days: 4
Price: USD 1,707
Availability: Enquire
Fixed Date(s): Mar 13 - Mar 15, 2021
Days: 3
Price: USD 1,179
Availability: Enquire
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