Ski Rusutsu Japan

Ski Rusutsu Japan

Our Terrain Ratings

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

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
  • Vertical (m)
    449 – 994 (594)
  • Average Snow Fall
    13  metres
  • Lifts (18)
    4 Gondolas
    7  Quads
  • Ski Hours
    9:00am to 9:00pm
  • late Nov to early April
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 37
    Trails – 42km
    Longest run – 3.5 km
    Max Pitch – 40 Deg
    Beginner - 30%
    Intermediate - 40%
    Advanced - 30%

Rusutsu Ski Resort

Ski Rusutsu Japan for plenty of powder skiing and snowboarding! Rusutsu is a medium sized ski area that is reasonably large by Japanese ski resort standards. The skiable terrain is 800 hectares in size and it contains 37 runs, leaving plenty of room for off-piste fun. Thankfully off-piste skiing is permitted at Rusutsu Japan, so powder hounds can make the most of the abundant powder. And whilst Rusutsu is no longer an unknown powder gem, it’s reasonably quiet relative to the juggernaut of Niseko, so there are generally still some freshies on offer.

You can ski Rusutsu on two very distinct sides of the resort. The relatively small West Mountain sits above the ski-in ski-out Rusutsu Resort Hotel and The Vale Rusutsu and includes the kids area, beginner terrain, terrain parks, a few intermediate and advanced runs, and a tiny bit of tree skiing.

East Mountain is accessible via a gondola ride from the Rusutsu Resort Hotel or a chair lift ride from the Westin Rusutsu Resort. East Mountain is great for intermediates and strong beginners. Mt Isola is adjacent to East Mountain and is the largest of the areas and the pick of the bunch for powder hounds with lots of delightful tree runs between the intermediate piste.

Ski Rusutsu - Lifts

The lift infrastructure at Rusutsu is amazing with 18 lifts including 4 gondolas, and 6 high-speed quad chairs. Most of these have hoods, making it a pleasant ride up the mountain even on those cold minus 20 days. Rusutsu Resort also has 3 magic carpets for the little kiddies.

If you can’t score enough turns during the day, Rusutsu also has night skiing daily during peak season on West Mountain.

Lift Tickets

Lift ticket rates are a little pricier than many other Japanese ski resorts, but you get great value for money. Rusutsu Japan is also accessible off the Epic Pass (and Epic Australia Pass and Epic Local Pass) for a total of 5 consecutive days, with no blackout dates. The process to utilise your Epic Pass is painfully inefficient and classically Japanese, so it’s no surprise that there are often long queues at the lift ticket windows.

Some of the Rusutsu pensions offer discounted lift passes, although you often need to pay cash for these.

Rusutsu Snow and Weather Conditions

Hokkaido ski resorts seem to have a lot of trouble when it comes to measuring snowfall and Rusutsu is no exception, maybe because there’s too much to measure!? Different sources cite a range of statistics but let’s stick with the official Rusutsu Resort stat of an average of 13 metres of snow per season. Either way, it’s well known that it snows a lot at Rusutsu! Overnight dumps of 20-40cm are quite common and the powder is light and dry, in part due to cold temperatures.

The Siberian weather patterns that bring the fabulous snow also bring the wind and the frigid temperatures. Even though it's often cold, having to dress warmly is a small price to pay for powder that is fabulous. Thermals, a neck warmer, face protection, and even a thin hat under your helmet are likely to be required. Brrrr.... Thank goodness many of the lifts are nice and warm.

As to be expected, the Rusutsu snow conditions vary somewhat depending on the slope orientation. In the Isola area the slopes with a more northerly aspect are often paradise, whilst the other side of the ridges can be a bit crunky.

Rusutsu Skiing for Beginners

Complete novices can start at the base of the West Mountain which has the convenience factor of being within close proximity of the Rusutsu Resort Hotel. The Snow Park is a dedicated learning area that has a magic carpet and a really gentle slope. Beginners can then progress onto the green slopes off the West No. 1 quad chair lift.

The base area of the East Mountain also has a nice learners’ area. Other green trails on the mountain require a short descent on a red run, so exploration of the rest of the ski resort should only be undertaken by confident beginners.

Rusutsu Ski Terrain for Intermediates

Rusutsu Japan is really ideal for intermediate skiers and boarders with some of the best manicured runs ever seen. Intermediates have 40% of the piste and if you only want to ride in the toasty warm gondolas, there is still a large range of terrain on offer.

The best run is the Isola Grand (on Mt Isola), a 3.5km long run that has consistent fall-line and is perfectly groomed. Often there are deep powder stashes to the sides of the piste which are ideal for intermediates wishing to experiment with powder for the first time. Of course there are also days where the groomers are covered in a foot of snow, so intermediates will have to learn to love powder. How could they not?

Terrain Parks

Rusutsu has a small easy terrain park at the base of West Mountain that is illuminated for night riding as well as one a little further up the mountain. The terrain parks feature various hits for differing abilities including kickers, boxes, rails and waves. The little Freedom Park near the base of East Mountain has a small range of rails, boxes and jumps.

Advanced Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Rusutsu has various black and double black piste runs that are sometimes covered in egg carton shaped bumps. The single blacks are short so if you blink you may miss them. The double blacks are adequately challenging for advanced riders, but they’re not the sort of double blacks that are found in North America that get the pits and palms sweaty. For advanced skiers and boarders, off-piste is where it's all at.

Expert Skiing and Snowboarding

If you are looking for steep chutes and extreme skiing, Rusutsu is probably not the place for you (or most ski resorts in Japan!) unless you head into the backcountry. In amongst the trees you’ll find the occasional drop-off for some hucking, or a really steep pitch that lasts for one or two turns, but that’s about it.

Rusutsu Off-Piste Skiing and Tree Skiing

Heaven, heaven, heaven! When the snow is on (which it frequently is), Rusutsu is nirvana on earth for powder skiers and powder novices. Because the terrain is not incredibly steep, it is relatively easy to navigate the trees (don’t forget your helmet though!).

At Rusutsu they are relatively relaxed about skiing through the trees. Some of the best powder and tree skiing is between the lifts on Mt Isola. For lazy powder hounds, the best thing about Rusutsu is that you can get off the lift at the top of the mountain and ski the fall-line through the trees all the way to the bottom of a lift with minimal traversing, and absolutely no hiking.

There are also various sidecountry areas where fresh lines are easier to come by. Some of these require navigation nous or a guide as part of a day or multi-day tour.

Rusutsu Backcountry

Adjacent to West Mountain is Shiribetsu-dake; “Shiribetsu” means "arse division" or something equally amusing. You need to earn your turns to get up there, but from the top there are 360 degree lines to be taken, with the lines towards the resort being south facing.

Backcountry guiding services are available for day or multi-day tours. The other option to explore this area is to go heli skiing!