Sahoro 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)
    420 – 1,030 (610)
  • Average Snow Fall
    8.7 metres
  • Lifts (9)
    1 gondola
    3 quad chairs
  • Ski Season
    early Dec to mid Apr
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 21
    Longest run – 3 km
    Advanced - 30%
    Intermediate - 30%
    Beginner - 40%

Sahoro Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Sahoro Hokkaido is a medium sized ski resort (by Japanese standards) that is a good all-rounder, offering a small variety of trails for each ability level as well as tree skiing for advanced to expert skiers and snowboarders.

The Sahoro ski resort is below the timberline. The majority of the terrain is on the "front face" which largely consists of one large bowl that's predominantly east facing. The back bowl (which is more of a side bowl) is the new area that's mostly northeast facing.

The green (beginner) runs at Sahoro Japan are "streets" or "roads", the red (intermediate) runs are "avenues", whilst the front face black (supposed advanced) runs are "ways". The nomenclature for advanced runs in the new area commence with "N".

The Sahoro ski area has two base areas. One is at the bottom of South Road at the Sahoro Resort Hotel, whilst the main hub and terminus of various runs is at the gondola station (adjacent to the day car park).

Lifts

The lift infrastructure consists of one gondola that travels most of the vertical, 3 high speed quad chair lifts, 1 triple chair, 3 doubles, and one surface lift. Sahoro also has a couple of magic carpets: one outside Club Med and the other just diagonal to the gondola base near the beginners' platter lift.

The new area has a lovely hooded detachable quad chair, whilst the other two fast quad chairs service beginner terrain. Otherwise riders will primarily use the gondola. Unfortunately the gondola can develop queues if school kids turn up in droves, and on windy days they have to run it at a snail's pace. And like many Japanese gondolas, you have to take your powder skis inside the gondola, which further adds to the lift capacity issues.

One respite is the triple chair which runs at a decent pace and provides options for intermediates and powder hounds.

Unfortunately the top lift (no. 4) seems almost permanently decommissioned, so to get to some of the best goods on the hill, powder hounds have to return all the way to the base to catch the gondola which gets rather monotonous.

Another frustration is the intermittent running of the new lift (#9 Sahoro Express). It's hard to figure out whether it's only open on weekends or only when the resort thinks there's enough skier traffic or when they can be bothered.

Lift Tickets

Lift tickets are provided as part of Club Med Sahoro packages, whilst those staying at the Sahoro Resort Hotel can purchase discounted lift tickets. For day trippers, lift ticket prices are still very reasonable and thankfully they accept credit card for lift ticket purchases.

In additional to standard single day passes, there are other ticket configurations such as a 4 hour, 11 ride, single ride, and beginners 4 hour tickets. If you'll also be riding at Rusutsu or Sapporo Teine, there are lift pass deals whereby if you buy a one day pass at one of the 3 ski resorts, you can then buy a half price pass at one of the other of the 3 resorts.

Sahoro Snow

Sahoro has some similarities to nearby Tomamu, and not just because both resorts have a Club Med.

Both Sahoro and Tomamu tend to do pretty well out of southern storms, and the average Sahoro snow volume of 8.7 metres per season is pretty much the same as Tomamu, which is below the average of about 12 metres for the main Hokkaido ski resorts. In addition to the snow from Puki the Yuki god, Sahoro has a little snowmaking on a few runs to top up the cover.

Like other Central Hokkaido ski resorts, Sahoro makes up powder points in the quality stakes. The powder that falls is characteristically of low moisture content and beautifully silky. That being said, the powder quality perhaps isn't quite as sublime as a couple of other Hokkaido ski resorts. The top elevation is just below average for a Hokkaido ski resort, and it's a couple of hundred metres lower than nearby Furano and Tomamu (although the base of Sahoro is much higher than Furano).

Like Tomamu, the front face of Sahoro is rather sunny. The Sahoro front face is mostly east to southeast facing, with the runs on the skiers left being more south facing (and potentially at the sun's mercy) and the tree runs on the skiers' right being more shady with lovely snow quality. The N runs are northeast facing and as to be expected, have much nicer snow.

Beginner Skiing Sahoro

The beginner skiing and snowboarding terrain at Sahoro is very good, and the proximity of the novice slopes to the two hotels is a major bonus. And the addition of the included group lessons (in English) at Club Med makes this a superb resort for beginners.

The easiest trails are in the lower parts of the resort and serviced by quality lifts. Beginners with more confidence can head up to the central roads, whilst very very confident beginners (ie intermediates!) can tackle the South Street trail from the top. This is way too steep to be rated as a beginner run!

Intermediate Ski and Snowboard Terrain

In addition to the green rated South Street, there are only 3 red trails at Sahoro. Whilst two of these run nearly the full vertical of the ski area, it doesn't provide a huge amount of terrain variety for intermediates. What it lacks in quantity Sahoro makes up for with quality, with fantastic fall line and lovely grooming.

Confident intermediates should also be able to tackle the black runs, especially if they have been partially groomed.

Terrain Park

When we visited, Sahoro had a pathetic excuse for a terrain park with a couple of half formed little jumps and other hits that sat right in the middle of one of the beginner runs.

There was also a little adventure course in amongst the trees that was sort of like a mini pipe, but more like a hairy little packed down path that was very scary?!

Advanced Skiing Sahoro - On-Piste

On the front face there are five black runs that are mostly left ungroomed. These are reasonably mellow for black runs, although the North Way hits a maximum gradient of 39 degrees and provides a momentary smidgeon of challenge for advanced riders. The lack of maintenance of a couple of the runs at the top was a little disappointing, with some shrubbery growing in the middle of the runs.

A couple of the supposed "cut" runs in the new zone were really disappointing, because they haven't actually been "cut". Some idiot cut the trees off way too high, so even with decent snow cover there were stumps just below the surface. To top it off, there were some rocks in there too. Take care in this new zone and perhaps just stay in the trees.

Off-Piste Skiing Sahoro

Officially, off-piste skiing at Sahoro is not permitted but it seems that the patrollers just turn a blind eye to it. Another advantage of Sahoro is that the majority of skiers and boarders that visit are beginners or intermediates at best, so there's generally very little competition for fresh off-piste lines and plenty of opportunity for powder frivolity!

The tree skiing at Sahoro in both the off-piste and sidecountry areas is fantastic, but only for experienced tree skiers because they have a tendency to be a little tight.

The most obvious spot that powder hounds tend to hit first is the steep and relatively open trees to the left of North Way. Under the gondola is also popular when the snow is fresh. However fresh lines off South Street tend to last a long time (and this is where the best snow is), probably because the trees are a fraction tight initially before they open up a little to powder skiing bliss! The upper parts are steeper and shorter, whilst lines to the right of South Way are mellower but longer, although a traverse is required for egress, so it's loved more by skiers than snowboarders.

The north bowl aka side bowl has some lovely tree skiing with nice snow inside the resort boundaries - just keep a watchful eye out when you pop back onto the piste.

Sidecountry

The Club Med instructors are not allowed outside the ski resort boundaries, so the terrain a little either side of the resort opens up even more freshies. Actually the sidecountry is rather spectacular, and if you're on a guided tour (either a day tour from Furano or a multi-day tour), your guide will be able to show you some fantastic stashes.

The summit of Sahoro-dake is only about 30m above the lift serviced terrain so there isn't much backcountry above resort, but short walks nonetheless can open up a lot of terrain with relatively easy return to the resort.