Iwatake 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)
    750 – 1,289 (539)
  • Average Snow Fall
    11  metres
  • Lifts (12)
    1 gondola
    1 quad chair
  • Ski Season
    mid Dec - late Mar
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 26
    Longest run – ?
    Beginner - 30%
    Intermediate - 50%
    Advanced - 20%
The Hakuba Iwatake Ski Resort is divided into a Village Side and a Mountain Side, with the latter having multiple lifts that converge at the summit of Mt Iwatake so you can ski or snowboard off the top onto various aspects. The Iwatake skiing isn’t as pitchy as Happo One, Hakuba 47 or Cortina, and it finds a nice happy medium between steep and mellow that intermediates really enjoy.

Lifts

The main lift at Hakuba Iwatake Ski Resort is a gondola called Noah (what is it with the biblical named gondolas at Hakuba?!). There is a decent quad chair and a triple chair, otherwise the others are pair lifts – perhaps so Noah’s animals can all travel up the mountain in pairs.

Even during peak times not all the lifts run, and it’s a bit of a museum with various defunct lifts as well.

Lift Tickets

You can buy lift passes just for Iwatake or use the Hakuba Valley lift pass. The latter has the advantage that you can ski at multiple Hakuba ski areas per day (e.g. if the weather closes a major lift at one resort), and the pass also provides free access to the Hakuba Valley shuttle buses (otherwise the HV buses attract a small fee, and Iwatake ski resort operated shuttles are free), however it’s much more expensive than buying an Iwatake lift pass. 

Iwatake can also be accessed using the Epic Pass (and Epic Local Pass and Epic Australia Pass) for 5 consecutive days.

Iwatake Snow

One potential drawback of Iwatake is that the top of the ski resort has low altitude relative to the other main Hakuba ski fields. The snow on the frontside is also affected by the aspect which is mostly southeast facing.

The impact on Iwatake snow quality is particularly apparent when the temps rise or during the margins of the season, so it’s no surprise that the Iwatake ski season is shorter than the other Hakuba ski resorts.

Beginner Skiing Iwatake

Iwatake is OK for beginners and the international snowschool is a huge bonus. The slope in front of the ski school isn’t particularly mellow, nor the other green slopes near the base, so Hakuba Iwatake is ideal for beginners that aren’t scared of giving something a crack.

There are additional beginner runs at the top of the mountain, and beginners can download the gondola.

For the Intermediate

Iwatake isn’t a large resort like Sun Peaks or Whistler, but there’s enough variety for intermediates for a couple of days. The runs are mostly short, and a couple of the red runs start or terminate in a green run, so the pitch isn’t sustained for long.

Advanced Skiing On-Piste & Off-Piste

Like a lot of Japanese ski resorts, the on-piste advanced skiing and riding is rather limited and not that steep. There are a handful of short black runs that mogul up pretty quickly. There are also a handful of designated short mogul courses; if that sort of things excites you.

For those wanting to snort some powder, the “view” zone is probably the best for powder and tree skiing. There is a small area that’s been opened up as an official off-piste zone and there are a couple of unofficial areas that are worth discretely poking around.

Iwatake offers a snowcat first tracks program which is great for those that can afford it, but for those that can’t, it means that you may have lost your opportunity for fresh powder.

There are better resorts in Hakuba for off-piste terrain, but the downside of those is that they are more inclined to attract lots of powder hounds.