When to Ski

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When to Ski

Hokkaido Explorer Tour
Wagner Custome Skis

When is the Best Time to Ski at Kiroro?

The different parts of the Kiroro ski season have their pros and cons. The best time for Kiroro skiing and snowboarding is dependent on your priorities and whether you want to chase the best powder, visit when the accommodation rates are reasonable, or enjoy fine days. Or maybe you are just happy learning to ski or snowboard at any time of the season.

Kiroro Skiing Season

The typical Kiroro ski season is late November to early May. Kiroro is renowned for lots of early season snow, and then abundant snowfall throughout winter, which is why it’s often one of the first Hokkaido ski resorts to open each season, and one of the last to close.

Early Dec to Pre-Xmas

All the SW coastal Hokkaido ski resorts are recognised for good early season snow, and often Kiroro is on top of the leader board with respect to snowfall. By mid-December, Kiroro often has a snow base of 1.5 to 2 metres, so there is usually plenty of snow on-piste for beginner and intermediate riders. An exception for on-piste coverage could be the black runs, which are not well summer groomed, and when it’s a slow start to the season (e.g. 19-20) these runs may not be rideable.

Off-piste areas have a lot of sasa a.k.a. broad leaf bamboo, which requires a lot of snow to cover it. If the vegetation is not covered, it requires some special riding skills to not get tangled up in it! Another potential risk for those chasing powder is that the creeks may be open in the sidecountry areas, making egress just that little bit harder.

The upsides of pre-Xmas skiing at Kiroro are the lack of competition for the powder, the snow quality is often sublime due to cold temps, and accommodation rates are reasonable.

Lift tickets are only discounted during November and in very early December.

Kiroro Skiing Christmas to New Years

Some folks can only take leave during the holidays from Christmas to New Year’s, but if this doesn’t apply to you, then this is not the best time to visit Kiroro. It’s one of the busiest times at Kiroro because New Year is a major Japanese holiday as well as a peak vacation time for westerners. The Kiroro accommodation rates are hiked up (as are flight prices) and it is somewhat busy around the resort. That being said, Kiroro is less busy than many other major Japanese ski resorts, and lift queues are generally not a major problem. It also seems that many of the visitors during this peak time are mostly families and beginners, with relatively few serious powder hounds so it can be an OK time to score freshies.

Ski Kiroro in Early January

Early January can be an absolutely crazy time at many of the high profile ski resorts in Japan such as Nozawa Onsen, because they’re inundated with Australians who are on school holidays at that time. There doesn’t seem to be that many Australians that stay at Kiroro, possibly because many are looking for more affordable places to stay, so early January can be a relatively quiet time to ski Kiroro.

Many of the powder hunting tours don’t commence at the very start of January, so you might have a hope of scoring freshies.

The Rest of January

The off-piste and sidecountry areas tend to have filled in with snow, and much of the bamboo and shrubbery has been covered. It dumps a lot with snow, temperatures are often very cold, and the powder is absolutely primo. This is the best time to visit Kiroro for powder skiing and riding, but many powder hounds know this, and they turn up in their droves from Niseko and Otaru.

Fine weather is rather rare during January, which can hamper the keen powder hounds from getting into the sub-alpine and alpine backcountry areas.

Kiroro for Chinese New Years – late Jan/February

If you want to avoid crowds or are sensitive to accommodation pricing, avoid Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year like the plague! Chinese New Year (CNY) falls on the new moon between January 21st and February 20th, so it’s a different timing each year, and the holiday period can extend for about a week around the actual new year. Kiroro is trendy with Asians at the best of times, but during Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year it’s mighty popular.

Whilst those staying at Kiroro may mostly remain on-piste on the beginners runs, there’s still likely to be day tripping powder chasers arriving from further afield.

Ski Kiroro in February

With the exception of CNY, February is a good time to visit. In early February the weather patterns tend to be similar to that of January and it’s a great time for powder skiing. The powder in late February is generally good too, and the tour group numbers tend to have lessened by then. The weather may also start to settle and open up more days for backcountry skiing.

If CNY doesn’t fall in early February, it can be a good time to visit Kiroro because it coincides with the week-long Sapporo Snow Festival.

At the same time, Otaru runs the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival where the canal and the rest of the town are illuminated in the evenings with pretty lights.

Kiroro Skiing in March

March brings more fine weather days and it’s an enjoyable time for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders to visit.

There are still powder days in early March, but these are intermingled with some warmer temps, so snow quality can be completely variable. During March, there is very little competition for the fresh powder at the resort. March is also a great time to head into the backcountry if you are self-sufficient and don’t need a guide.

April

April is mostly just the locals having a good time on-piste or in the backcountry. This is not the time to chase powder, whereas snow cover on the courses is likely to still be good. Depending on conditions and skier traffic, one half of the ski resort may be closed.

Spring pricing for lift tickets is applied during April and into early May.
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