FATMAP difficulty grade
A classic hike to line in the legendary Niseko back bowls.
Perfect after a storm day.
Be sure to check the Nadare forecast (linked below) for avalanche conditions and gate openings. Access is via the Niseko-Annupuri Summit Hike, through Gate 3.
From the King Lift 4, the gate is just above the summit station.
From the Ace Pair Lift 4, traverse hard to the riders left to reach the King Lift 4 summit station.
This line is also accessible from Gate 2, by continuing down from the Annupuri summit, to the right along the col above Gate 3, though most skiers access this line via Gate 3 so they don't have to walk downhill. After exiting Gate 3, follow the Niseko-Annupuri Summit Hike, a bootpack along a cat track, until reaching the col.
Continue to the right while enjoying stunning views of the surrounding peaks including Io, Konbu, and Yotei.
The ocean is also visible from here on particularly clear days.
You will know you are at the correct summit because there is a small hut at the top of Niseko-Annupuri, as well as a weather station.
It is usually windy here, and this is a great place to take shelter while grabbing a drink and a snack before your descent.
Treat the hut with respect by carrying out your own trash and trying to keep snow out please! This descent is very similar to the Kozan no Sawa classic except for the top section.
Instead of dropping into the bowl, ski along the SW ridge.
This may be wind scoured and is frequently full of holes from eroded snow or thermal activity so exercise caution.
Stay to the riders right of the nose: the dominant feature at the end of the SW ridge.
Coming around the side of it, cut back to the riders left.
Be wary of your entrance point as this ridge line is frequently wind loaded and builds a rather large cornice by mid January.
Once around the nose, this is a riders delight.
Choose wherever to drop in as long as you drop into the SW bowl of Kozan no Sawa (riders left).
Taking the riders right will deposit you onto Route 58 which is closed in the winter, and you will have a long push to the nearest available pickup location. Some of the most interesting features are immediately off the nose, and if you are early in the day and the snow looks good, don't hesitate to ski these popular spots.
They are exciting shots with cliffs and features for a good 300m before the terrain benches and you meet up with the traditional Kozan no Sawa route.
If it is later in the day and the snow looks more tracked, ski down the ridge to the second nose for some S and E facing terrain.
This requires much more time spent on the ridge, which usually means lower quality snow, though it can be worth it to find some late day untracked snow. From here it is more or less the traditional Kozan no Sawa route: one can follow the gully which doglegs back to the right, or go over the bench and into a stand of trees that continue in the drainage.
These trees tend to hold great snow and are full of small features that are fun to play around on.
This will continue for another 400m until the terrain levels off into the return to the resort. Once again as long as you have dropped in to the left, the ridge wraps around and helps guide riders back to the resort via the main drainage.
If you think you have gotten too far to the right, simply cut hard left and you will eventually find yourself at the hairpin of the Junior Piste that will bring you back to the Annupuri Base Area.
If you are apprehensive about the return, start out with a run out of Gate 1 or the Kozan no Sawa classic route first to get familiar with the terrain of the lowers.
And remember the lower terrain is full of creek beds that may be exposed in early season.
Exercise caution when navigating concavities. Be aware that once in the correct drainage tracks will lead back to the resort, however the nose is also a popular access point for ski touring Io Dake.
Tracks going down to the right from the nose belong to skiers with skins that intend to hike out at the end of the day. http://niseko.nadare.info/