Gala Yuzawa SkiingTerrain

Gala Yuzawa SkiingTerrain

Our Terrain Ratings

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

Our Terrain Ratings

Powderhound rating = advanced/expert terrain + powder + freshies + uncrowded
 
  • Vertical (m)
    358– 1,181 (823)
  • Average Snow Fall
    11  metres
  • Lifts (11)
    1 gondola
  • Ski Season
    mid Dec - early May
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 17
    Longest run – xkm
    Beginner - 35%
    Intermediate - 45%
    Advanced - 20%

Gala Yuzawa Skiing and Snowboarding

The Gala Ski Resort has two vertical halves to it. From the train station and the Cowabunga building at the base, the gondola takes you from 358 metres of elevation up to 800 metres. This lower half of the mountain is primarily for access. At the end of the day, beginners can download the gondola to the train station, whilst intermediates and above can race down the sometimes icy trail to catch the bullet train.

Mid-mountain (800m) is a large day lodge (Cheers) and the main part of the Gala Ski Resort rises from here up to 1,181 metres. The Gala Yuzawa skiing and snowboarding terrain can be divided into 3 zones.

The Northern Area is mostly comprised of green runs, and it connects to the Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort. The Central Area has a mix of beginner and intermediate runs and is the busiest area, especially at the hub of the chair lifts. The reasonably quiet Southern Area has intermediate and advanced runs and connects with the Yuzawa Kogen Ski Resort.

Crowds

Due to the ease of access from Tokyo, Gala Yuzawa can get swamped on the weekends. Watching the mayhem that ensues when a Shinkansen turns up at Gala Yuzawa makes for great entertainment! Thankfully Gala is a well-oiled machine, so you can organise any equipment rental requirements reasonably quickly, and due to great lift capacity, the lift queues are reasonably OK. The actual trails themselves can be a different matter and can get very congested, which is further exacerbated by the narrowness of some of the courses. Thankfully there is a very polite snowboard culture in place whereby snowboarders don’t make a fence across the top of trails whilst they put their snowboard on. Rather they gather on the sides, and some snowboarders have to walk a fair way down to put their board on.

Weekdays are completely different. Whilst all the 9 to 5 Monday to Friday office workers are hard at work, the slopes at the Gala Ski Resort are relatively quiet (without being deserted). If you can travel mid-week you’ll also benefit from cheaper accommodation in Yuzawa.

Lifts

Gala Yuzawa has reasonably impressive lift infrastructure and lots of fast lifts. In addition to the modern gondola between the train station and the main ski area, there are 3 quad chair lifts in the Central Area to move the crowds. Other lifts include 2 triple chairs, 4 double chair lifts, and a tediously slow ropeway (cable car) that connects Gala with Yuzawa Kogen Ski Resort.

Lift Tickets

Undiscounted lift tickets are a little expensive relative to many other Japanese ski resorts. For intermediates and above, it’s worth spending a little extra to purchase the 3 Mountain Pass so you can access Ishiuchi Maruyama and Yuzawa Kogen too.

They definitely accept credit cards for lift tickets (as well as everything else).

Gala Yuzawa Snow

Gala Yuzawa is blessed with very good snow volumes, with approximately 11.8 metres of snowfall on average per season. With respect to the Gala Yuzawa snow quality, it’s probably not as good as the famed Japan powder. Many of the slopes have an easterly orientation and the top elevation of 1,181 metres, which is reasonably high but not compared to nearby Naeba Ski Resort (1,789 metres) and Kagura (1,845 metres – when they actually open the top lift!), isn’t conducive to amazing snow. Thankfully the majority of the Gala Yuzawa skiing is in the upper elevations.

Gala Yuzawa Skiing for the Beginner

Gala Yuzawa has some nice trails for beginners, but if possible head over to the Northern Area ASAP where it’s a bit quieter and you can learn in peace. On weekends the trails in the Central Area are too busy and too narrow, and it’s hard to predict which direction the beginner snowboarders might just head.

The first timers’ area has a dedicated beginners’ area so at least novices can learn to crash into each other without being pestered by faster riders.

Skiing and Snowboarding for the Intermediate

Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort is ideally suited to intermediate skiers and snowboarders, with a range of nicely groomed trails. The resort differentiates between blue trails (intermediate) and red trails (advanced intermediate), with my favourite red trail being the long Eliza trail in the Southern Area where you can take your speed up to Mach 2 if you wish!

The “most difficult trails” are not particularly steep, so strong intermediates should be fine on these too. The main challenge comes from these trails being ungroomed.

Terrain Park

There is a crappy little snow park in the Northern Area for beginners.

Advanced Skiing Gala Yuzawa

Gala Yuzawa has 2.5 trails that are rated for advanced riders, but when the steepest part of any piste trail is only 33 degrees, you know that this is not a steep resort. The 2.6 Million Dollar course is the acclaimed “advanced” run but it’s hardly worth writing home about most of the time.

Expert Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Baa haa!

Off Piste Skiing and Riding

When you take the gondola up, you’ll look at all the open lines and tree runs, and being a powder hound you’ll probably drool with excitement especially when you see all the untracked snow. But then you realise that the snow is completely untracked with not one iota of riders heading off-piste, and you quickly remember that this is a resort that’s operated by the fun police! There are lots of Honshu ski resorts that prohibit off-piste skiing, but with discretion you can do it and only risk losing your lift pass. At Gala Yuzawa they charge you with trespassing if you go off-piste and we’ve heard stories that you’ll spend some time at the police station – the real police that is, not just the fun police.

Whilst you could potentially hide in the pine trees in the gondola zone, in the upper parts of the ski area there is nowhere to hide and they have video cameras everywhere. Boooo!