Tsugaike 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)
    800 – 1,704 (904)
  • Average Snow Fall
    13  metres
  • Lifts (20)
    1 gondola
    9 fast quad chairs
  • Ski Season
    late Nov - early May
  • Terrain Summary
    Runs – 11
    Longest run – 4.6km
    Advanced - 20%
    Intermediate - 30%
    Beginner - 50%
  • Lift Prices (Day: 17/18)
    Adult - 5,100 yen
    Child - 3,000 yen
The Tsugaike Ski Resort is up there as one of our favourite Hakuba ski resorts due to the fun tree skiing in the Tsuga Pow (Tsugaike Powder) areas and being a good general all-rounder.

Lifts

Tsugaike Kogen has rather impressive lift infrastructure. The Tsuigake gondola takes a while to get from the bottom to the top, but it travels at a decent speed to cover the lengthy distance. The resort has another 19 lifts including 9 fast quad chairs and an assortment of other chair lifts. Some of the beginner lifts are also open for night skiing.

The Panorama Ropeway rises from above the top of the gondola, but during winter it is teasingly closed. From mid March onwards the ropeway (cable car) usually opens up, making the access to the true backcountry Kogen (highlands) much quicker.

Lift Tickets

Tsugaike offers beginners’ tickets for various lifts near the base. For full resort access you can buy lift passes just for Tsugaike Kogen or use the Hakuba Valley lift pass. The latter has the advantage that you can ski at multiple Hakuba ski areas in one 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, although there are other free buses. The HV pass is more expensive than buying a Tsugaike lift pass, particularly considering that many of the locals hotels and pensions provide discounted lift passes for Tsugaike, although often you have to pay cash for these.

The Hakuba Valley ski resorts can also be accessed for 5 consecutive days using the Epic Pass (and Epic Local Pass and Epic Australia Pass).

Tsugaike Snow

The statistics for the average Tsugaike snowfall from December to April is 13 metres, although this is recorded at the summit, so it’s probably a little less in the ski resort but still delightfully bountiful.

Like the rest of the Hakuba ski resorts, the quality of the powder is generally good without being exceptional, as you’d typically find in Hokkaido. The slopes are mostly southeast facing which is lovely for the beginners on fine days but not as ideal for the snow quality maintenance. A plus for the Tsugaike snow is that the top elevation is reasonably high.

Beginner Skiing Tsugaike

Tsugaike Ski Resort seems to have masses of beginner terrain. Officially 50% of the slopes are dedicated to greenies, but particularly the lower section of the resort feels huge. The area is largely devoid of trees, so that only leaves one big bell for novices to potentially run into! More green runs can be found further up the mountain.

For the Intermediate

Tsugaike Kogen is good for intermediates without being amazing. The resort has several wide groomed red (intermediate) slopes but they’re not particularly long.

Terrain Parks

The Tsugaike Ski Resort is popular for the terrain parks, which like the intermediate runs, are OK without being fabulous. The best hit park is located at the top of the resort, although sometimes it doesn’t get into full swing until later in the season when the weather is kinder.

Advanced Skiing On-Piste

As is often the case, the trail stats are rather misleading. Supposedly 20% of the piste is advanced (black), but there are only 1.25 black runs and the quarter run doesn’t deserve its single diamond status. So those who love bashing their knees on steep moguls will want to head to Happo One or Goryu.

Tsugaike Off Piste Skiing and Riding

Advanced powder hunters can find some fun off-piste in the trees off the Tsuga No. 2 lift. Off-piste skiing used to be taboo but now there is a Tsugaike Powder program with gated self-responsibility areas that provide a myriad of lines under the gondola. Gates 1 and 2 provide entry to the Tsuga Trees area which is ideal for advanced skiers and snowboarders. Gates 3 to 5 provide access to TsugaPow which is steep with variable thickness of vegetation and suited to experts.

In order to become a member of Tsugaike Powder you have to check into Jacky's Kitchen at the base of the top lift first thing in the morning. You have to fill in a little paperwork, listen to a short safety briefing and get an armband to wear, which is so much better than the ridiculous bibs they make you wear at Hakuba 47.

Much of the Tsugaike Powder zone has slopes that have a sunny aspect so it’s best tackled when the powder is fresh, although in peak season the fresh lines don’t last too long on a powder day anyhow.

Tsugaike Sidecountry and Backcountry

Tsugaike Kogen has some magical sidecountry terrain for experts with reasonably shady aspects, and very short skins/hikes provides access to additional terrain.

Tsugaike Ski Resort is also well reputed for the backcountry access that includes sub-alpine and alpine terrain that ranges from mellow to steep. Backcountry riding is permitted by the ski patrol, except in one zone where it has previously avalanched onto the ski area. You can book a Hakuba ski guide to show you some of the amazing backcountry lines.