Kiroro Lifts & 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 (9)
    1 gondola
    5 express chairs with hoods
  • Ski Hours
    9:00am - 4:00pm
    late Nov - early May
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 22
    Longest run – 4 km
    Advanced - 33%
    Intermediate - 29%
    Beginner - 38%
  • Lift Prices (Day: 18/19)
    Adult - 5,900 yen
    Child - 3,100 yen

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 22 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. 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.

Lifts

Kiroro Hokkaido scores 5 out of 5 from us for the lift infrastructure. Of the nine lifts, only three 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 they have four 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 where you don’t have to take your skis or snowboard off.

Kiroro has night skiing for beginners, with the closing time 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. And because Kiroro likes to fleece you for extra yen, there are early riding passes. So if you want freshies in-bounds and score powder half an hour before everyone else, you’ll want to pay for the fresh tracks pass.

Lift pass configurations include 1 day tickets (which includes night skiing), 6 hour, 3 hour and beginner lift passes. It’s also possible to purchase night skiing tickets. Lift tickets are discounted for consecutive multi-day purchases. Single ride gondola passes are no longer available for backcountry skiers.

Kiroro has Powder Alliance relationships with various ski resorts around the world, whereby season pass holders may get a few days of free skiing at Kiroro.

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 up 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 few years of snow data:
  • snowfall at the base: 14-15 16m; 15-16 15.1m; 16-17 13m
  • snowfall at the peak: 14-15 24.8m; 15-16 23m; 16-17 19.2m
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.

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.

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

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. Other than a tiny terrain park, Kiroro may only have a banked course set up.

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. An off-piste trail map outlines the permitted areas, which even have names.

The Asari #2 lift (the detachable hooded double chair) in itself 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.

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 typically mountains of windblown powder 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 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, 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 some 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!). 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. And if the avalanche risk is extremely high, they don’t close the gates (like they do at Niseko).

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 tasty steep lines that terminate near The Kiroro Hotel.