Iwatake Lifts & Terrain


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 (9)
    1 gondola
    1 quad chair
  • Ski Season
    mid Dec - late Mar
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 26
    Longest run – 3.8km
    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, Norikura or Cortina, and it finds a nice happy medium between steep and mellow slopes that intermediates really enjoy.


Hakuba Iwatake Ski Resort has 9 lifts (the number keeps shrinking). 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, 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.


The popularity of Hakuba continues to grow and Iwatake is no exception. Crowds are generally only a major problem on weekends and holidays, and at the base area. Poor lift line management, which is evident at most Japanese ski resorts, further exacerbates the problem.

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 a standard Iwatake lift pass.

Hakuba Iwatake Resort has also introduced the S Class ticket so you can feel extra special and get priority boarding on the gondola, plus you get access to the onsen and the private parking lot. The price for the S Class ticket gets bumped up significantly on weekends and holidays.

Iwatake can also be accessed using the Epic Pass (and Epic Local Pass and Epic Australia Pass) for 5 consecutive days. See the Hakuba skiing page for more information.

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.

Terrain Park

The popular DC Park has a various kickers, rails and boxes. For bigger jumps and a pipe, you should head to Hakuba 47.

Beginner Skiing Iwatake

The international ski school runs private lessons at Iwatake and the terrain is just OK for beginners. 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, 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

Like a lot of Japanese ski resorts, the on-piste advanced skiing and riding is rather limited and not that steep. A couple of the runs have been upgraded to double black runs which is laughable. These short black runs mogul up quickly.


For those wanting to snort some powder, the “view” zone is probably the best for powder and tree skiing. There is a small area on skiers’ left of the back bowl that’s been opened as an official off-piste zone, and there are a couple of small permissible areas adjacent to the Hikage lift and Sawa lifts. Elsewhere off-piste riding is officially banned, yet there are still various treed areas that are worth discretely poking around.

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


Iwatake isn’t usually a top pick for backcountry skiing in Hakuba considering its low elevation and mellow terrain, yet it lends itself well to touring on stormy days and/or when the avalanche risk is too high elsewhere. There are some backcountry routes that terminate with a road pick-up.