Lifts & Terrain

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Lifts & Terrain

Our Terrain Ratings

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

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
    Ani Ski Resort Trail Map
  • Vertical (m)
    537 – 1,200 (663)
  • Average Snow Fall
    unknown
  • Lifts (3)
    1 Gondola
    2 Double
  • Ski Season
    early Dec to early May
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 5
    Longest run – 4.4
    Beginner - 60%
    Intermediate - 40%
    Advanced - 0%
Whilst the Ani Gondola up Mt Moriyoshi is very long, the actual Ani Ski Area is rather small when you consider just the piste terrain. In addition to the Ani Gondola, the ski area only has 2 double chair lifts and 5 courses.

Of the handful of runs, 3 are for beginners and 2 are rated for intermediates; one of which has a few small branches off it. There are no advanced courses (officially) and with a maximum gradient of only 28 degrees on the intermediate runs, there’s nothing super steep on-piste at Ani Ski Resort.

The shape of the Ani Ski Area is very different to most Japanese ski mountains. Rather than being a classic volcano with the steeps at the top, the intermediate terrain in the middle, and beginner runs near the base, the pitch of Ani is all over the place. The top of Mt Moriyoshi is rather mellow, the middle section of the ski area has a flat spot, which is particularly painful for slow-pokes on a powder day, and the rest of the lift-serviced terrain is highly varied with respect to pitch. It has steep trees, dips and gorges, and much of the terrain doesn’t funnel nicely into a classic drainage like it does at many other Japan ski areas. This makes the terrain really interesting, but it also means that there are lots of fun zones that require a short hike to get out. You’ll really want to have your skins or snowshoes with you, especially if you don’t have a guide.

A great pro for the Ani Ski Area is that powder chasing is well accepted, and the ski patrol won’t bother you if you look like you know what you’re doing.

Lifts

The Ani Gondola is quite long and it takes about 17 minutes to travel the full vertical of the Ani Ski Resort. In addition to providing access to the ski area, the gondola is also frequented by tourists, especially from China and Taiwan, that head up Mt Moriyoshi on snowshoes to see the snow monsters. The Ani Gondola also operates in the green season for hikers that enjoy looking at the flowers or autumn leaves.

When the weather is foul, the Ani Gondola may close which also closes the top chair lift. As a backup, the resort may run a snowcat on request up to the top of the gondi station.

The top lift (2nd Lift) is a double chair that they run reasonably quickly for a fixed grip lift. The bottom lift (1st Lift) is rather slow, but at least it has footrests so you can really chill out. There is also a tiny handle tow in the middle of the ski resort, which is targeted at snowboarders on a powder day to get past the flat spot.

Lift Tickets

Full day lift tickets are inexpensive, and Ani also has 3 hour and 5 hour passes, as well as a really cheap single ride gondola ticket. And thankfully no, the Ani Ski Resort is not on the Epic Pass or Ikon Pass!

Credit cards are accepted for lift ticket purchases.

Ani Snow and Weather

Don’t expect a lot of fine days during the middle of winter. There aren’t many peaks between Ani and the Sea of Japan, so the raging winds off the Sea of Japan can buffet Mt Moriyoshi. The frequent storms can dump big snow volumes, and although the actual average snowfall per season is unknown, it’s thought to be big and in the same realm as Tazawako and Hakkoda.

The Ani snow is rather coastal yet the top elevation is decent for its latitude which helps with snow quality. And even the though the slopes have a mostly SW aspect, the sun doesn’t come out that much during winter to have much of an effect on the snow quality.

Ani Skiing for the Beginner

Adjacent to the day lodge is a tiny novice area for the kids to learn. It’s not serviced by a magic carpet, and requires the kids to walk up the little slope.

The green run off the 1st Lift is the initial step for lift-accessed skiing and snowboarding. It has one short pitchy section, otherwise it’s ideal for learning. Meanwhile, the 2 green runs off the 2nd Lift would probably be rated as intermediate at some other Japanese ski resorts.

Intermediate & Advanced On-Piste Terrain

In addition to the two top “green” runs, intermediates could play on the Challenge Course if it has been groomed. This is a “red” run but it’s got some pitch in places and it’s more akin to a black run at some other Japanese ski resorts. Another major limitation is that you have to continue down the full length of the Ani ski area, which includes the tedious flat spot in the mid zone.

The 1st Lift has a couple of red runs that are ideal for strong intermediates and can be lapped more easily.

Off Piste Skiing and Riding

The line between what’s off-piste and sidecountry at Ani is very blurred, in part because the terrain inside the actual resort boundaries is rather small and the zone under the gondola is outside the ski area.

The top chair lift services the primo easy picking tree skiing. Under the chair lift are some steep lines amongst lovely trees that head into a gully and cross under the chair where you’ll need to traverse before delving deeper into the gully into no-man’s land. Also, head too far right off the top chair lift and you’ll be skinning out!

The trees near the base are also very skiable when the snow’s good. The trees are mostly evergreens that offer decent fall line, albeit short.

Sidecountry and Backcountry

We’ll call everything else the sidecountry (ie backcountry close to the ski boundaries) and this is where Ani Ski Resort comes to the fore! If you’re willing to put in a small amount of work and have skins or snowshoes, Ani offers lots of powder rewards.

You’ll need to sign in with ski patrol and you’ll require all the usual backcountry equipment and avalanche savvy, plus plenty of route-finding nous and/or a guide. For example, in the middle section of the resort there is a high likelihood of getting gullied out, so know your exit before dropping into some tasty looking trees. Short skins up the top to the skiers’ left take you to beautiful ridges that provide OK egress. A couple of areas near the top are rather avalanche prone, so take care.

From above the gondola you can drop over the backside for sub-alpine runs and then into evergreen trees which may have formed into snow ghosts, and then hike back up. Or play in the zone of former Moriyoshi Ski Resort. Or you could skin up to the top of Mt Moriyoshi if it was a fine day and you wanted to take in the views, but the riding near the top is rather ho-hum and mellow.

Guiding

Having a guide is highly beneficial to make the most of the unusually shaped terrain at Ani, which is somewhat difficult to self-navigate. There are a couple of lovely local Ani guides who speak adequate English for guiding, and they may have an assistant to help with a car pick-up if you do one of the great lines down to the road. You can organise a guide through the resort, or contact Japan Ski Tours via this form who can hook you up with one of these local guides.

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