Kiroro Hokkaido Skiing Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
  • Vertical (m)
    570 – 1,180 (610)
  • Average Snow Fall
    21  metres
  • Lifts (10)
    1 gondola
    1 chondola     
  • Ski Season
    late Nov - early May
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 23
    Longest run – 4 km
    Beginner - 38%
    Intermediate - 29%
    Advanced - 33%

Kiroro Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Previously known as Kiroro Snow World, probably due to the abundance of snowfall, Kiroro Resort Hokkaido has a small to medium sized ski area with 23 courses.

Kiroro Hokkaido is well suited to beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. Unfortunately there is very little on-piste to keep advanced riders happy, but advanced and expert riders who go off-piste and into the sidecountry should be absolutely ecstatic if they can score first tracks. Kiroro Snow World is a good ski resort for powder hounds because there is a variety of off-piste terrain and Kiroro receives lots of snow. Awesome!

The whole ski resort sits below the tree line. The lower half of the mountain is very mellow and fairly typical of that found at most Japanese ski resorts. The top half has slopes of varying pitches, but counteracting some of the steeps are very flat areas in the Asari area. Luckily the course is supposedly “panoramic” because snowboarders in particular may get very annoyed with the lack of pitch. Similarly the Gateway Course down to Yu Kiroro and The Kiroro is also very flat.

Lifts

Kiroro Hokkaido scores 5 out of 5 from us for the lift infrastructure. Of the 10 lifts, only 3 are slow double clunkers and these sit in the beginners' areas (and it could be argued that beginners need the rest!). One lift is a fast gondola and the Gateway Express is a chondola, which has both gondola cabins and hooded quad chairs. Kiroro Resort also has 4 detachable hooded quad chairs, as well as a fast double hooded chair. Ahh the joys of being protected from the weather and having lots of fast lifts.

Kiroro has night skiing for beginners, with the closing times varying a little between weekdays, weekends and holidays.

Kiroro Lift Tickets

Kiroro lift ticket prices are up there as some of the most expensive in Japan, but you get plenty of value for money considering the infrastructure on offer.

Lift pass configurations include 1 day tickets (which includes night skiing), 6 hour, 3 hour and beginner lift passes, although the latter are not that much cheaper than an all-mountain pass. It’s also possible to purchase night skiing tickets. Single ride gondola passes are no longer available for backcountry skiers.

If you join the Kiroro Mountain Club (which is reasonably inexpensive) you get priority access on the lifts, as well as the ability to submit a climbing plan earlier than everyone else, priority car parking (for season members), and discounted equipment rentals.

Kiroro Snow and Weather

Kiroro receives lots of snowfall but who really knows how much! Back in about 2011 the snowfall statistic was 13 metres on average per season, yet somehow or another the resort is now citing it as 21 metres! I’m not sure how the average can soar by 8 metres over several years, but it possibly might be due to switching the stat to the snowfall at the summit. Here are a handful of years of snow data (none of which provide an average of 21 metres):
  • snowfall at the base: 14-15 16m; 15-16 15.1m; 16-17 13m; 17-18 12.1m; 18-19 11.8m
  • snowfall at the peak: 14-15 24.8m; 15-16 23m; 16-17 19.2m; 17-18 17.8; 18-19 14.4m.
Meanwhile the 19-20 season was a complete fizzer. Either way, it is undeniable that it snows a mighty lot at Kiroro Snow World, in part due to its proximity to the coast. The temperatures are usually very cold, yet the powder isn’t quite as dry as the Central Hokkaido resorts. Nevertheless the snow is commonly silky and much better quality than typical Honshu powder.

Many of the slopes on the Asari side are northwest facing and tend to have slightly better snow than the mostly west facing slopes on the Nagamine side.

Kiroro Hokkaido commonly receives a lot of snow early in the season so it tends to fully open much earlier than other Japanese ski resorts, and they don’t need snow making to top up the cover. This generally just applies to the piste, because the vegetation in the off-piste areas requires a lot of snow cover (see the Kiroro ski season page for more information).

It’s often windy at Kiroro, but the lifts are less inclined to close than at many other ski resorts, in part due to the presence of wind fences for the lifts.

Kiroro Skiing for the Beginner

First timers can start on the two person lift at the base area which services a short and very mellow course. There are various progressions from here, but some of the green runs have painful flat spots, so beginners will need to quickly learn how to skate or pole when there is fresh snow.

The Premier Cruise in the Nagamine area is a nice long groomed run that includes tunnels, waves and banks.

For the 20-21 season, a small novice area with a very low angle slope will be added out the front of Yu Kiroro, which will include a covered magic carpet.

Kiroro Intermediate Skiing & Boarding

Intermediates that love to cruise the groomers should be kept entertained for numerous days, although Kiroro doesn’t have the quantity of intermediate runs that you’d find at many North American resorts.

The black runs at Nagamine and Yoichi are very easy, so these could be good spots for intermediates to learn to tackle small moguls.

Parks & Pipes

Shaun White won’t be visiting Kiroro anytime soon. Whilst the summer grooming of the half pipe remains, Kiroro has followed suit of many other Japanese ski resorts and closed the half pipe. And there’s no proper terrain park, just a few “snow features”.

Advanced Skiing – On-Piste

On-piste options are very limited. Test your mettle on the 37 degree slopes of the two Asari courses, but that’s about it for black runs. The other couple of black runs are almost laughable that they’re rated black.


Off-Piste Skiing Kiroro

After a long period of a very conservative approach to tree skiing, Kiroro has finally relented and allowed off-piste skiing (ie within the resort boundaries) within a good proportion of the available terrain, but just for certain times of the day. An off-piste trail map outlines the permitted areas, which even have names.

The Asari #2 lift (the detachable hooded double chair) area can provide a huge amount of fun with some steep albeit short lines through trees of varied spacing, and other tree skiing can be found around the ski area.

Now that Kiroro has a well established reputation as a mega powder hound destination, the off-piste areas tend to get tracked out rather quickly.

Kiroro Sidecountry / Slackcountry

The real nirvana of Kiroro can be found in some of the sidecountry areas, although this has its pros and cons. The main pro is that mountains of windblown powder often land in the area to skiers’ right of the gondola (now known as Nirvana!) so you may need to pack your snorkel and an oxygen cylinder. We’ve had some days of neck deep powder in the Kiroro sidecountry! On these deep days you need to ride terrain with some pitch but whilst there are some steep-ish lines at the top of the main slackcountry areas, these are short lived before you get stuck in the gully run-out which seems to go on forever and can be really gnarly early season. Considering the frequent deep snow in here, snowboarders are well advised to stay out until they’re sure that some nice skiers have set a track out. Another con is that there are lots of powder punters that arrive from Niseko, so nirvana with abundant fresh tracks may be short lived.

Kiroro very staunchly claims that they don’t control the backcountry because this would be illegal, unlike their competitor Niseko who open and close the Niseko sidecountry gates. However Kiroro does “control” the backcountry access to some degree (such as dictating what time you can submit a climbing plan if you don't pay extra money, policing the gate entry, grooming a run outside the BC gates to facilitate ingress, and prohibiting BC access from the car park or road to make sure that you buy a lift ticket), but not in the ways that you hope they would.

You have to register your intent to enter the sidecountry (Level 2 of the Mountain Centre), submit a climbing plan and get a paper ticket to show patrol at each of the BC gates. If you pay additional money for Mountain Membership you can submit a climbing plan earlier than everyone else (but apparently they don’t “control” the backcountry!). If the avalanche risk is extremely high, they don’t close the gates (like they do at Niseko). There are no rules that avalanche safety gear is mandatory (like with BC access at Kagura) which is a shame considering that the terrain can be very avalanche prone, so if some idiot without gear starts an avalanche above you, they won’t be able to dig you out. So please don’t be one of those wallies - take your avalanche gear and know-how.

Kiroro Backcountry

Now that the lift-accessed backcountry (sidecountry or slackcountry) tends to be inundated with powder hounds, if you want fresh Kiroro powder minus the tracked out snow, you’ll need to earn some of your turns. On inclement weather days, short skins can get you to some lines that feed back into the resort. For fine weather days (which are somewhat rare in the height of winter), you can do long skins up to the spectacular alpine terrain. Or skiers’ left of the resort takes you to some very tasty steep lines such as Mini AK that terminate near The Kiroro Hotel.